Object nr. 580 China, 18th Century circa 1750-1760 Height: 25.6 cm | Width: 14.5 cm

Private Collection, The Netherlands

Condition Report available

€ 7,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

The Cockerel or Gong-Ji

The cock is the tenth creature in the Chinese zodiac. It is never eaten in China, and even at New Year it is not to be killed. It wards off evil: a picture of a red cock will protect the house from fire. Placed on a coffin, a white cock will keep demons at bay.

There is ample textual evidence that cock-fights were being held in China in the first millennium BC. Today, although prohibited, they remain a very popular sport in South China.

There is supposed to be a cock in the sun, though other traditions say it is a three-legged raven. The cock is admired not only as a courageous bird but also as a beneficent one: he summons the hens to eat any food he finds. Again, he symbolizes reliability, as he never fails to mark the passing hours. He is also a symbol of male vigour. According to Indian legend, a cock sits on a tree in the Continent of Jambudvipa: this is the "King Cockerel" and when he crows al the cocks on earth crow.

Symbolically, a cock (gong-ji) crowing (ming) represents 'achievement and fame' (gong-ming). The word for "cock's comb" (guan) is phonetically identical with guan = official; a present of a cock with a handsome comb, therefore, expresses the wish that the recipient may be rewarded with an official post.  A cock with five chickens is a reminder that a father's job is to educate his five sons.

Floris van der Ven