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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Happy Year of the Rooster!

Happy belated Chinese New Year! January 28, 2017 marks the beginning of the rooster year and the end of the monkey year (my Chinese zodiac sign).

I'm definitely no Chinese zodiac master, and through my 'scientific' online searches, I realized there are probably dozens of conflicting characteristics for people born under this sign (take 2017 and keep subtracting multiples of 12 to see if you are born in the year of the rooster, i.e. 2005, 1993, 1981, etc).

People born in the year of the rooster can be anything from early-risers, hardworking, tidy and dedicated, to being contentious, flamboyant, careless and volatile. Anyways, here's a good summary from the Toronto Star about what to expect from this year for roosters and those born under the other zodiac signs.

The rooster has always been a popular motif in Chinese art with examples appearing as early as the bronze age. Roosters were depicted in various mediums, sometimes by themselves or part of a larger decoration. Mediums range from paintings, jade carvings, ceramics, and cloisonné enamel. I have compiled a quick list of items containing roosters I have come across over the years.

1. A Doucai 'Chicken' Cup, Ming Dynasty, Chenghua Mark and Period (1464-1487), from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the rarest and most desirable porcelain wares, there are less than 20 recorded examples of these in the world. Chenghua chicken cups are known for their thin potting and whimsical design with a rooster on one side, and a mother hen looking after her playing chicks on the reverse. Symbolically, the cup wishes its owner to bear many generations of children.

The most recent sale of a Chenghua chicken cup realized 281.24 million Hong Kong Dollars (approximately 36.05 million USD) in April 8 2014 at Sotheby's Hong Kong, a world record for any Chinese porcelain at auction.

2. A Famille Rose 'Chicken' Cup, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Mark and Period (1736-1795), from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This porcelain cup depicts another popular and sought-after design. The pairing of a young boy with a rooster seems like an odd motif in Chinese art. The reverse features an Imperial poem dating to 1776 by the Qianlong emperor which praises art from previous dynasties, (including Ming Dynasty chicken cups). We learn that this boy is a legendary prodigy from the Tang Dynasty who trained fighting cocks at a young age. It symbolizes the precociousness of youth.

3. A Pale Celadon Jade Carved Rooster and Rockery Group, 18th Century, from the exhibition Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco at the Guimet Museum (October 19, 2016 - January 16, 2017)

This lovely carving depicts a solitary rooster perched on a rocky mound. It showcases the virtues of the animal including solidarity and dignity.

4. 'Heroic Rooster' (1988) by Huo Ranjun at the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath

This modern rooster is crafted from low-fired ceramic and is extremely well-detailed. Perched on a large tree stump, the rooster looks a little on the fierce side though!

5. Since this last rooster was made in China, I guess it can be part of this blog! In the late fall of 2016, a giant rooster appeared in front of a shopping mall in Shanxi's Taiyuan. The rooster features possible similarities to an American politician with it's blond hair and hand gestures. Photos courtesy of Shanghaiist, and you can read the full article here.

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