Written by Jessica Graybill
Ever wonder why the rooster is such a prominent theme in Italian ceramics? The origin of the rooster pitcher dates back to the early Renaissance period in the Republic of Florence, under the influence of the Medici family. The Medici were the most wealthy and powerful family in the republic, with their only rivals being the Pazzi family. The Pazzi were trying to take power the only way they knew how – by assassination!
The Medici liked to throw huge parties for everyone in the villages to attend. One Medici in particular, Giuliano, was especially known for his partying ways, and would throw one at the drop of a hat. Knowing this, the Pazzi had someone suggest to Giuliano that he should throw a party in Gallina, and naturally, Giuliano was down. The Pazzi planned to kill Guiliano and his guards after the festival, when everyone was good and drunk!
So, in the fall of 1478, Giuliano and his entourage went to Gallina to throw the festival. As planned, the Pazzi hired assassins to sneak into the town in order to execute the plan. They would have succeeded, except the assassins had to cross a yard full of roosters to get into the village, and at the sound of the intruders, the roosters began to crow in such a frenzy that it woke Guiliano and his guards! This caught the assassins so off-guard, they froze and were captured, and eventually executed.
In true Giuliano fashion (any excuse for a party) he threw another festival the next night, because he was so thrilled that the roosters had saved him! He ordered his artisans to create ceramic copies of the roosters to be used as wine pitchers, and gave the pitchers to all the peasants of the village as a symbol of good luck in warding off assassins. That’s why it’s now an Italian tradition to give a rooster pitcher to friends or family as a symbol of good luck and to protect them from danger!
Italian Pottery Outlet has roosters for every occasion!