An Engraved Gilt-Bronze Stem Cup Depicting a Hunting Scene

Tang dynasty (618-907)
H: 5.7cm D: 5cm

The exterior of the cup is delicately engraved with a continuous scene of two hunters on horseback, one with a club extended and ready to strike, the other with bow drawn and followed by two hounds, all reserved on a ring-punched ground below a foliate scroll band.

In ancient China objects made from jade and bronze were the most desired by the Chinese population. An increase in trade with Central Asia saw an influx of gold and silver goods into the country and soon objects made from these precious metals became popular. Initially, between Han and Tang dynasty (220-618), gold and silver were adopted by the non- Chinese Buddhists in the north as a suitable material for Buddhist utensil for their rituals, but soon became widely adopted by other elites. Hunting scenes were copied from contemporaneous Chinese paintings and tomb murals.

• A similar gilt-bronze stem cup in the Avery Brundage Collection, engraved with a hunting scene, is illustrated by J. Fontein and Wu Tung, Unearthing China’s Past, Boston, 1973, p. 180, pl. 93.

– Acquired in Hong Kong, 1999.
– J.J. Lally & Co, New York, no.3098.

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