The poem inscribed on the cups mentions a man by the name of Zang Ping, who lived during the Muzong reign (r. AD 926-33) of the Tang dynasty. Zang was famous for the large cockerels he reared to take part in the cock fights that took place during the Qing Ming festival. However, the youth depicted on the cups may instead represent Jia Chang (b. AD 713), who was a child prodigy. At the age of thirteen he was such a talented trainer of fighting cocks that the Tang dynasty emperor Xuanzong (r. AD 713-56) employed him to train the imperial fighting cocks. The design on these cups is therefore often known as 'the precocious boy'.
This bowl is based on cups of this type which are based on earlier Chenghua doucai prototypes such as the pair of cups decorated with chickens only in the Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits for International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, vol.II, Porcelain, 1948, p. 130, no.171. More commonly this type is to be found in the Qianlong period. See for a discussion by R. Scott in For the Qing Imperial Court - Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, Singapore, 1997, pp. 98-99, no.33.