There are many things in life that are not for me to understand, and chief among them is the ubiquitous ceramic kitchen rooster. It’s one of those things that for many years I didn’t even think to question, but once I did set to wondering, I became amazed and mystified by this seemingly-simple kitchen tchotchke.
You’ve seen these a hundred times before, and I’d wager you haven’t given them a lot of thought, either. But, they’re kind of weird. For starters, the rooster is always depicted with all the noble bearing of a Roman general. These roosters don’t look like they’re just the big man around the henhouse, they look like they’ve just come back from conquering half of Europe. And they’re not cheap — the one pictured here has a $375 price tag. Who is spending nearly four hundred dollars on a ceramic chicken? Granted, it’s a very, very nice ceramic chicken, but it seems a bit odd that this would be happening all the time without a few questions being asked.
Questions like … who makes these? Somewhere out there, someone is making a living off of making ceramic roosters. Someone is a ceramic rooster artisan. Someone learned how to make ceramic roosters from their grandfather, and comes from a long line of rooster-makers. Perhaps there is a village in Italy that is renowned for its collection of fine chicken portaitists.
When I first started to ponder the kitchen rooster a few years ago, I started photographing them whenever I saw one. I finally gave up after I hit a few dozen — the suckers are all over the place. But here’s the kicker — I never saw two that were alike. They have got to be made from molds, but why have I not seen any duplicate chickens? The variety in the ceramic rooster market is simply astounding.
I don’t have the answers, and frankly, I don’t want them — I like a little mystery now & then. So, the next time to cross the path of a very fancy ceramic kitchen rooster, ponder for a moment where he came from, and where he’s headed. And be thankful you aren’t a peasant in some tiny European village he’s just ransacked.
p.s. — I do appreciate the irony in this questioning of ceramic roosters coming from a woman who runs a huge site dedicated to ceramic drinking cups made to look like Polynesian gods.