The subject of the rooster in Chinese and Japanese painting has traditionally implied serious content. Chinese Zen adepts likened the rooster s alert and attentive anticipation of the dawn to the attitude of a devoted practitioner s eager anticipation of enlightenment; the rooster s crow was emblematic of the moment of satori (enlightenment). The rooster also was thought to embody the Five Virtues: martial spirit, literary accomplishment, loyalty, courage and virtue. The 18th century in particular witnessed a number of Japanese painters issuing quite spectacular renderings of these creatures. Most were complex studies in color and pattern; some were presented in ink monochrome. The painter Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) was the acknowledged master of the form. This scene of barnyard fowl painted by Kishi Ganku offers the artist s characteristically jaded view of an icon held in high esteem. Gaku s interpretation is of an elongated and threatening creature. The rooster s neck feathering, in particular, is luxuriously rendered to the point of the surreal. The most telling episode in the composition is the feeding process; a hen passes a dragonfly to a ravenous chick. The dragonfly s eyes imply horror and this brilliant, minuscule touch conveys Ganku s skill at suggesting the darker side of the ostentatiously regal.