The CE and I are collectors. Me, of furry four-footers and feathered and winged creatures. He, of books and esoteria. Since neither of us seems able to curb the other’s passions, our home has long been overrun with dogs, cats, chickens and stacks upon stacks of books along with the occasional Napoleonic artifact or antiquity.
But roosters have been off-limits. Neighbors too close by and, frankly, I’ve read too many stories about attack roosters and the painful injuries that can be inflicted by their spurs. I guess I’m just, well…a chicken about the whole thing.
I didn’t find the Golden Retriever puppy I’d asked for under the tree on Christmas morning, but the CE presented me with the next best thing. “Open it very carefully”, he said. Mounds and mounds of tissue paper later, I saw this guy peeking out at me:
He is all of five inches tall, described as a “superb Greek votive terra-cotta rooster figurine, circa 4th century B.C.” He is not rare – mold-made terra-cotta figurines were commonly given as gifts in ancient Greek society – but he is wonderful!
According to the dealer description, roosters “were favored domestic pets, as one can see on the numerous depictions of them on Athenian choes (oinochoe)”
One of my favorite museum moments was at the Getty a few years back when I came upon a sweet figurine of a woman feeding her hens. Also from the 4th century, this piece reminded me that the pleasures of flock-keeping go way, way back. The recent ascendance in popularity of the backyard flock is really nothing new; humans have enjoyed having chickens underfoot (and in the stew pot!) for millennia.
As I write this, four of my hens are out under the oaks scratching for this and that, while Lola is busy on the nesting counter making breakfast. All just as hens did in the last century and the one before and so on reaching all the way back into recorded human history. Everything old is new again, and I love my old/new rooster!
I also received another work of chicken art this Christmas. Many thanks to our young artist friend, Hannah Allen, for making me a chicken ornament I will treasure forever!