Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Koko Lesson 1: What's in a name

When I started my blog, I mentioned that I would be focussed on all things Koko, amongst other trifling matters such as world domination. Thus begins our formal lessons in Koko (ignoring that scary Congo Cookbook fiasco).

Koko. That's my name. What's in a name? I will tell you.

I was named by Mrs. Peep who was reading the Lilian Jackson Braun mystery series. The series, called "The Cat Who..." features a Siamese cat named Koko. My namesake is the cat of each installment's title and due to his supposed psychic abilities, he is also the solver of all the mysteries (although he graciously allows his human to occasionally get a little credit for these activities). He is a very well developed, independent character in these books, and is quite famous in his own right.

Koko is actually a nickname. Our full name is Kao K'o Kung after a thirteenth century Chinese government worker, painter and poet. This name allegedly means "worthy of respect". Kao had a mostly uneventful career in government office, serving as a supervisor at the Ministry of Occupations at the age of twenty-eight to becoming the head of the Ministry of Justice when he passed away at the age of sixty-two. It is said that he rarely painted and when he did, he was usually in the presence of wine or close friends. Only under such circumstances did he improvise on a subject. As an artist, Kao was held in high esteem by the Yuan dynasty masters. He specialized in painting landscapes and bamboo in monochrome ink, in particular in painting mountains enshrouded in fog and rain. He was noted for "his brush and ink being moist and mature with an aura of order and freedom, " and was also gifted in verse.

I am not sure I see why Ms. Braun chose Kao K'o Kung as the name inspiration, unless it was the fact that his name means worthy of respect, because she certainly has portrayed her Koko as the essence of Siamese dignity and pride, stately and sphynix-like. Perhaps she also drew a comparison between the double lives of Kao (worker/artist) and Koko (cat/sleuth). In any event, I know that Mrs. Peep found Koko amusing, endearing, inspiring, and, in spite of the gender differences, felt that he was a good namesake for me. I suspect there are many Siamese cats in North America named Koko for the very same reasons. I might be the only Tabby/Siamese mutt, however, so at least I am still somewhat unique!

Stay tuned for more lessons on all things Koko.


Little Knitter said...

Koko, I must tell you, your name means many many things.
Koko is a Malay word for cocoa (perhaps referring to your sweetness?) it is also a music venue in London England. Apart from that, Koko is also the name of a brilliant ape who usues sign language, the name of a language unto itself, and a name of an animated clown. Interesting. All my name means is "Messanger of Heaven" which I suppose is sort of important... but not nearly as important as yours

koko puff said...

Oh thanks. You have completely revealed all my future lesson plans! Do you work for a public school board or something?!? Bah. Now I will not have the benefit of surprise. I will have to actually (try to) write something interesting. The pressure is on!