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Weather or Not

Whichever Way the Wind Blows
American<br>L. W. Cushing & Sons<br><I>Hamburg Rooster weathervane</I>, <br>about 1880s<br>Copper and pigment<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>Gift of John and Elizabeth Driscoll
zoom American
L. W. Cushing & Sons
Hamburg Rooster weathervane,
about 1880s
Copper and pigment
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of John and Elizabeth Driscoll


A weathervane is movable device used to show the direction of the wind. It is placed high up on a building, often on a cupola (an ornamental dome put on a roof). The history of weathervanes can be traced all the way back to 48 B.C., to the Tower of the Winds in Athens, Greece. That marble structure contained a huge weathervane in the shape of a Triton, a Greek sea-god that was part man, part fish.

Although weathervanes come in all shapes and sizes, the rooster has traditionally been the most popular. According to legend, in the 9th century the pope decreed that all church steeples must have a rooster placed on top. This was a reminder of the Bible story in which Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, denied knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed in the morning. Seeing the rooster would encourage believers to have strong faith.

Today, you can find weathervanes in many different shapes–horses, eagles, mermaids, dogs, and angels, to name just a few. Look around your neighborhood to see what kind of weathervanes you can find!

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1. One reason for roosters’ popularity as weathervanes (besides their religious symbolism) was their asymmetrical shape. The rooster’s head always faces the wind.
Rooster weathervane, about 1860, iron, Gift of John and Elizabeth Driscoll


November 2007