Covered vessel in the shape of a heavenly rooster


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 222

Containers in the shape of a rooster carrying a vessel on its back are an invention of Song dynasty (960–1279) antiquarians, who believed that such ritual vessels existed in the classical age of ancient China. This rock crystal vessel was modeled after the bronze ones that were catalogued as “heavenly rooster vases” (tianjizun) in the collection of Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736–95), who had a deep interest in the antiquities. The term “heavenly rooster” comes from a Chinese legend about a mythical bird whose crowing awakens the whole world.

Covered vessel in the shape of a heavenly rooster, Rock crystal, China

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