Small jade carvings of roosters are rare, and the present piece is a particularly exquisite example for its fine modelling. The translucency and even tone of the jade stone is enhanced by the soft round body, which in turns provides an attractive contrast to the detailed feathers of the tail and wings. The skilful incorporation of the natural russet inclusions of the stone not only displays the carver’s appreciation of the precious material but also heightens the overall sense of three-dimensionality. It is interesting to note that this piece would have echoed the past as its pose is reminiscent of jade staff finials in the form of birds, such as one attributed to the Tang period, included in the exhibition Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 70.
A slightly larger jade rooster similarly modelled with its head turned back and grasping a sprig of chrysanthemum, was included in the exhibition Chinese Jade Animals, op. cit., cat. no. 180. Compare also a carving of two roosters, attributed to the early Ming period, in the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, illustrated in Jades from China, Bath, 1994, pl. 282.