Vessel in the Form of a Heavenly Rooster


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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. Several bronzes similar to this one were catalogued as “heavenly rooster vessels” (tianjizun) in the collection of Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736–95), who had a deep interest in antiquarianism. The term “heavenly rooster” comes from a Chinese legend about a mythical bird whose crowing awakens the whole world.

Vessel in the Form of a Heavenly Rooster, Bronze inlaid with gold and silver, China

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