Happy New Year!
Chinese New Year, that is! This Saturday, January 28th, marks the start of the Year of the Rooster!
Unlike the “Western” New Year which follows the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year is dictated by the lunar cycle. And rather than one night of festivities, Chinese New Year is 15 days and nights of celebrating and ritual.
Traditionally, each year falls under one of the twelve Chinese zodiacs. 2016 was the Year of the Monkey, and this week we welcome the Year of the Rooster.
People born in the year of the rooster are thought to be punctual (maybe from all that early morning crowing), hard-working, and honest.
Chinese New Year is marked by certain traditional rituals of merry-making and superstition. To dispose of any remnants of bad luck from 2016, Chinese families give their homes a thorough clean. Any remaining unlucky spirits are scared off by dance troupes who preform lion and dragon dances and by the loud cracks and bangs of firework shows. To ensure a “sweet” start to their new year, friends and family visit one another and give each other auspicious tokens like oranges and small packets of money in red paper envelopes.
There must have been more than a few dollars in Liu Yiqian’s red envelope in 2014 when he spent $36.3 million dollars on a single porcelain “chicken cup.” Crafted during the Ming Empire, only 19 examples of these chicken cups have survived to present day. These miniscule wine vessels are known for their subtle color palette of pale greens, reds, and blues, and for their unassuming subjects, a family of farmyard chickens.
While the mother-hen watches over her newly-hatched young, a milky-glazed rooster with a proud, green tail feathers stands at attention.
Perhaps the Year of the Rooster will be a lucky one for you, maybe 2017 will be the year you stumble upon your own million dollar chicken cup?
Happy Chinese New Year from The Antique And Artisan Gallery!
Check out the Featured Items sections on The Antique And Artisan Gallery website for some of our favorite traditional Chinese pieces of furniture and decorative arts.
Regina Krahl, “The Meiyintang ‘Chicken Cup,” Sotheby’s Auction Result, last modified April 8, 2014. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/meiyintang-chicken-cup-hk0545.html
Written by Mallory O’Donoghue
Graphics by Patricia Lesyk