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  • Item Category: Glass
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Dec 08, 2007
  • Channel: Auction House


The Story of Chicken Pitchers

The origin of chicken pitchers dates back to the early Renaissance in Florence, Italy. At that time the leading family was the Medici's. Its patriarch was famous Lorenzo the Magnificent who had one younger brother, Giuliano. They were the wealthiest and most powerful men in that town; their only serious rival for power was the Pazzi family, who was trying to wrestle power by the normal method used at that time...assassination.

The Medici's wealth was partially based on their large land holdings, worked by their peasants in the nearby villages. The Medici's were benevolent landowners and occasionally they threw large festivals in those villages for the peasants. Giuliano especially liked to do it. Knowing that, Pazzi suggested Giuliano to throw a festival in the small village of Gallina, w it had never taken place before. Giuliano agreed and the Pazzi plotted to kill Giuliano and his guard the night after the festival when they would be most vulnerable due to the large volume of wine drank during the party.

In the fall of 1478, Giuliano and his entourage of bodyguards, cooks, artists, etc., went to Gallina to throw the festival. Pazzi hired assassins to sneak into the town late in the night after the festival and kill Giuliano and his guards. They might have succeeded but the yards around the village were filled with white chickens. As they neared Giuliano's tent they went through a yard w t was a large number of chickens. Unaccustomed to any activity so early in the morning, the chickens started cackling in such great frenzy that they woke up Giuliano and his guards. The assassins were so startled that they were unable to flee and were caught and executed.

Giuliano was so thrilled that the chickens saved his life that he threw another festival and he ordered his artisans to create ceramic replicas of a chicken to be used as wine pitchers and to adorn them with various designs. He gave these to the peasants and to his friends for Good Luck in warding off assassins.

It is now an Italian tradition to give a chicken pitcher to a friend, ideally as a housewarming gift, to protect them from trespassers and dangers. The most famous ceramic chicken pitchers are manufactured in DERUTA (Perugia) ITALY.

This hand painted Chicken Pitcher was made in Italy and I purchased it in Italy. It is 6 1/2 inches tall and 5 inches wide. It is in new condition. Never been used. The bottom of this pitcher is signed and marked DeRuta Italy.