Rooster Bowl

An over 500-year-old handicraft item of everyday life.




Roosters, peonies, bats and green leaves appear together on a piece of ceramic ware in fair white, representing all the elements making up a “rooster bowl”. The earliest form of rooster bowls can be traced back to the period between 1465 and 1487 in Ming Dynasty. It used to be an exquisite item for admiration and enjoyment among personages in high society. However, after civilian kilns became sufficiently developed, rooster bowls took root quickly in Chinese civilian society. At present, it has even become a classic design in civilian culture.

Traditional rooster bowls have a thin and octagon curved body, a wide rim and a high foot. Over the years, the drawings on the bowl have been hand-drawn by artisans. Bowls made in Guangdong make use of “overglaze decoration”, in which the decoration is applied after the pottery is glazed, but you can also find pottery made with the more technically-demanding “underglaze decoration” in Sichuan and Hunan, where the pattern is drawn before glazing is complete. Regardless of how it is decorated, there is no question about rooster bowls being an ordinary and down-to-earth utensil. Whether you are cooking at home or eating out, it is not difficult to spot them.

Nowadays, under the big current of mass production, machine printing has replaced hand-drawing in the production of rooster bowls, in keeping with the norm. Even though its use is not affected, the beauty of rooster bowls lies in large part in lines of uneven shades in hand drawing. Those who fancy finding a rooster bowl can try their luck searching for them in stores in old communities. It is said that when you knock on the side of the bowl with your finger, the crisper the sound is, the better is its quality. If you have no fear of the store owner getting mad, it does not hurt to try to flick it with your finger.