“Rooster King” explains essence of traditional Chinese painting

Chinese New Year

Rooster king

The rooster is seen by many as one of the most intimate of the 12 Chinese zodiacs, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular subject for traditional paintings.

CGTN’s Jiang Shaoyi visited a traditional Chinese painter, who has been portraying the bird for 30 years.

He talked about China’s special connection with the colorful creature.

“Ancient Chinese believe the rooster has many virtues. The rooster knows how to share food with others, which shows its kindness. It crows every dawn, so we find it punctual and trustworthy. And many ancient Chinese would have put up rooster paintings at the front gate of their houses, because they believed it also symbolized courage and would protect their homes from evil spirits,” said painter Mo Hao.

Mo Hao is one of the country’s most renowned traditional painters.

30 years of dedication in painting the rooster has gained him national recognition, along with the title, “The Rooster King”

Mo believes the Chinese language also endows extra meaning to this “lovely bird”.

“In Chinese, the word “chicken” shares the same pronunciation with the word “luck”, so for many Chinese, it also represents good luck,” said Mo

Mo said by simply adjusting the proportions of ink and water, and altering the strength of the strokes, artists could portray different textures of a rooster’s fluffy feathers, or its hard beak.

The skills have been passed down from generation to generation, and so has the special connection between the Rooster and China.

Chinese painting is one of the oldest artistic traditions in the world, with a history of about 2,000 years. Roosters and chickens are a common subject in the artworks. Besides luck and courage, they also represent fertility and family to Chinese people.

In many rooster artworks, we can recognise the theme of “happy family.”

Mo, himself, is in a family of four and through her father’s influence, Mo’s daughter Wei Jingjing has also become a traditional painter.

“I’ve watched my dad paint since a young age, and I have always been interested in the chicks he draws. I think, as one of the younger generation, I should learn more about the art, and pass it on,” Wei said.

Pass on the heritage and beauty of traditional art, and pass on good fortune and joy to every family—that’s probably the essence of the Spring Festival.

Shelly Wu discusses Chinese zodiac animals

This year marks the year of rooster, accordig to the Chines zodiac. Joining CGTN’s Susan Roberts for further discussion is Shelly Wu, teacher at the International Academy of Astrology, to talk about the significance of the rooster in both China and Western culture.