Cover Image via: TANC 艺术新闻中文版
I believe most of us had seen rooster bowl before! It’s the porcelain bowl with illustration of lively black-tailed rooster, red peony flowers and green banana leaves. With a long standing history since its existence, rooster bowl is now slowly replaced by eating utensils with modern design though it’s still quite popular in some Bak Kut Teh restaurants or hawker stalls. Somehow, it feels nostalgic to have meals using rooster bowl!
Different names of rooster bowl
Rooster bowls have different names in different areas. The Cantonese will called it “Ji Gong Wan 鸡公碗”; the Northerners use the name “Gong Ji Wan 公鸡碗”; meanwhile people in Southern Min-speaking areas call it “Ji Jiao Wan 鸡角碗”.
Meaning of rooster bowl
“鸡” (Chicken) in Hokkien sounds the same as “家” (home/family). In the early times, rooster is our nature alarm clock; it will crow in breaking dawn to wake the people up to start their days. Therefore, rooster also signifies the meaning of starting a family. In the past, rooster bowl is commonly used by families who want to be prosperous. Anyway, most of the families in the olden days which undertook agriculture as their livings cannot afford bowls painted with exquisite dragon and phoenix illustration on top. Other than representing hard work, the rooster depicted on the bowl also signifies a flourishing family; the peony flower represents prosperity.
Collective memory of rooster bowl
You can get a rooster bowl for ten cents only in the 60s. In Southern Min-speaking areas, most of the house owners will use rooster bowls to serve their guests. The Cantonese will include rooster bowl as dowry with the blessings that the groom can have smooth sailing future. In the 60s, rooster bowls were all over the streets in Hong Kong because the food stalls and food courts were using rooster bowls – it has become a collective memory for many Hongkees.
Old rooster bowl VS new rooster bowl
In early times, every rooster bowl is unique because it is hand painted – the wild and free painting style has its own beauty. As time passed, the rooster bowls which are available in the mass market now are made by machine and therefore loss the collecting value.
Lastly, let’s have a look on the scenes which rooster bowl appeared in Stephen Chow’s movies! Have you noticed its presence in the movies before?
I still have some rooster bowls at home! But today, only experts can differentiate whether the bowls are handmade or machine produced.
Translated from: 怀旧的鸡公碗：原来它还寓意家庭兴旺，花开富贵，连周星驰的电影都喜欢用它吃饭呢！