So much to regret about this page (you should see the state of the original!), yet so much to celebrate. I’ve been drawing Goldenbird for ten years now. I have been thinking about this little metal bird for much longer.
In reality, there were many reports of automata at the Imperial court of Byzantium through the centuries. The Lombard diplomat and cleric Liutprand of Cremona saw them in 949 AD, during the reign of Constantine VII Porphyrogennētos:
In front of the emperor’s throne was set up a tree of gilded bronze, its branches filled with birds, likewise made of bronze gilded over, and these emitted cries appropriate to their species. (Antapodosis, seu rerum per Europam gestarum) (more)
The idea that their singing evokes the past, the present and the future, is borrowed from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats; the idea that they are three has roots in Antiquity (three goddesses of destiny; sirens and harpies are also sometimes said to be three). The three magical bird-women of Russian mythology, Sirin, Alkonost and Gamayun, have also lent some ideas… (I refer here to the ultimate authority, Vladimir Vysotsky.)