The Jade Emperor, heaven's ruler, asked to see the Earth's twelve most interesting animals. When they arrived, he was impressed by the Rooster's eloquence, and awarded it tenth place.
In China, the Rooster is believed to ward off evil. A picture of a red rooster is hung up to protect the house from fire, while a white rooster placed in a coffin is reputed to keep demans at bay. The Rooster also symbolizes courage and male vigor. It is not eaten in China, but there is a tradition of rooster fighting that continues today, even though it is strictly prohibited. A crowing rooster symbolizes great acheivement, and a gift of a rooster with a fine comb expresses the wish that the recepient will be granted an official post.
THE ROOSTER AND HIS COMB
Long ago there was a hunter who hunted by day and tended to his lovely garden in the evenings. One day he found his favorite mulberry bush shriveled and wilting. He did all he could to save it, but it perished. The hunter shouted to the sun, "You are too hot and have destroyed my pretty bush. I am going to get my revenge."
Taking aim with his bow and arrow, the hunter fired at the sun, and the arrow hit the sun straight in the eye. The sun cried out in pain and ran to hide itself behind the clouds. All the animals in the kingdom urged the sun to come out again, but it stayed behind the clouds. Soon the land grew extremely dark and cold, and the animals realized that they would die if the sun did not appear. They called a great council and decided to try their best to persude the sun to come out again.
The first volunteer to call the sun was the Ox, but his voice was so deep and low that the sun could not hear it. The Tiger was next, but his roared message sounded fierce and terrifying that the sun hid even deeper in the clouds.
At last the Rooster strutted into the Council. "Let me try," he said, somewhat arrogantly, and called out loud and clear. The sun heard the rooster's agreeable voice and peered out. The rooster called again reassuringly, and the sun came out completely and told the rooster, "I will give you a special comb to comb your feathers before you call me each morning."
The sun threw down the comb and the rooster ran to catch it. Unfortunately, in his excitement, the rooster mistimed the catch, and the comb landed upside down on his head, where it remains today.