Why A Ceramic Rooster Became So Symbolic During The Ukraine War

Late last week, Twitter users who followed the account of the Embassy of Ukraine to the UK saw a photo of a meeting few of us thought we would see on our bingo cards. The post showed a meeting between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv with a single-word caption. It read, "Surprise," with a winky face emoji. While Ukranian chefs are helping the war effort and people continue to struggle with the hardships, the meeting was a nice moment for everyone to see.

In addition, a video was shared on social media of Prime Minister Johnson and President Zelenskyy walking the silent streets of Kyiv towards Independence Square, where the two heads of state visited a memorial built for some of the victims of the war. On the way there, they were met by a woman who gifted each man with a ceramic rooster, prompting Johnson to ask, "Is this for wine or for water?" As it turns out, the ceramic rooster has become a special symbol of the battle-weary people of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian rooster had survived a shelling

The ceramic roosters that were presented as gifts to the heads of Britain and Ukraine were designed by a Ukranian sculptor named Prokop Bidasiuk, who The Guardian says worked at a local pottery factory that produced pieces in the majolica style. Britannica says this type of earthenware was glazed in tin, although Bidasiuk created plates, vases, and toys and has pieces exhibited in the National Museum of Folk Applied Arts. The jug was mass-produced and used across the Soviet Union from the 1950s to the 1970s, per Euronews.

This rooster returned to make waves when, after the shelling of the Kyiv suburb of Borodianka, a kitchen cabinet was photographed intact even though the rest of the house was reduced to rubble. On top of the cabinet was Bidasiuk's rooster. As Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs proudly tweeted, "On the kitchen cabinet that remained mounted after the shelling of #Borodianka and became a symbol of inviolability, a ceramic rooster made by #Ukrainian artist Prokip Bidasiuk was recognized. Today @ZelenskyyUa and @BorisJohnson were presented with same roosters." As British companies like Aldi U.K. respond to the Russian invasion and the British and Ukrainian governments meet, the gift of the ceramic rooster is a powerful symbol.