15th January 2022 Annie R Teo
Sometimes all it takes is a picture to trigger a whole lot of thoughts, if I’m not wrong, those are called ideograms and I definitely found one in Beena’s magnificent cockerel. Now you may be wondering (as I hope you do) what the image of a cockerel means to me; so, let me enjoy sharing.
Some of you may have happened to watch perhaps a World Cup game on TV played by the French team and wondered why some funny looking dudes were brandishing a live and innocent rooster in the direction of the field? This, my friends, goes back to ancient tradition, back to the Gauls ( present day France, Belgium and parts of Germany) and the year 52 BC when the ancestors of the French and their most famous leader Vercingetorix (surely a cousin of Asterix) 😊 were fighting a long war against the Romans led by the illustrious general Julius Caesar. So, as war was raging between the two factions, Vercingetorix sent a live rooster to Caesar, a clear message to signify that the Gauls were very courageous, skilled fighters and proud of their nation. Caesar’s reply was to invite the Gauls to a feast to negotiate peaceful terms and guess what the high light of the meal happened to be, the plat de resistance? Yes! Coq au Vin! We can easily imagine how the Gauls immediately saw red like the wine in the sauce and how, galvanised by the outrage they won the battle of Alesia against Caesar and 30 000 legionnaires. That defeat however did not stop Caesar from becoming emperor☹.
As culture goes in France, the rooster was not only a warrior’s symbol of courage but too a Christian symbol displayed on the roof of most Catholic churches and on top of war monuments to signify the return to light from darkness: faith renewed.
As you understand by now, the French rooster is a major symbol and was even officialised under the Revolution in 1791 with a law proclaiming it “Symbol of Vigilance”. What may leave you confused though is that with such a prestigious status, the same bird often appears on the dining table as Coq au Vin (Rooster in Wine), one of our national dishes.
If you find the end of this story rather tragic, I may have just the thing to cheer you up: I found out that cockerels, like humans, communicate in different languages. Here are a few for you to try out, at home in your own country or on your next travel.
French: Cocorico! Spanish: Quiquiriqui! English: Cock-a-doodle-do!
Chinese: Keke li ke! (correct me if I’m wrong). Iban: Engkukuk Malayalam: Kokkarekoo