A tiny porcelain "chicken cup" which has survived from China's Ming Dynasty has sold for $36m at an auction in Hong Kong, setting a new record for a Chinese work of art.

The tiny cup was only eight centimetres (3.1 inches) in diameter and earned its "chicken cup" nickname because it depicts a rooster, a hen and their chicks. The scene is a metaphor for an emperor, his wife and his subjects. It is more than 500 years old.

The porcelain cup was made during the reign of the Ming Dynasty's Chengua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487.

Nicholas Chow, Sotheby's deputy chairman for Asia said: "There's no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain."

"This is really the holy grail when it comes to Chinese art."

The $36m price tag smashed the previous record paid for a Chinese art work, which was set last October when a bronze Buddha was also sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong for HK$236m ($30.4m, £18.2m.)

The sale marked the end of five record breaking days at Sotheby's Hong Kong, including an artist record for Chinese painter Zhang Xiaogang.

The buyer of the chicken cup, Shanghai based art dealer Liu Yiqian, has an estimated fortune of $900m and is among the top 200 wealthiest people in China.

He opened Liu's Long Museum in Shanghai in 2012 and will most likely display his latest acquisition there.