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Tang Dynasty
唐代
Ox-Headed Agate Cup Inlaid with Gold
镶金牛头玛瑙杯

This horn cup actually originated from a wine utensil known as "rhyton" in the west, which was very common in handicrafts in central and west Asia, especially in Persia (present-day Iran). It may have been a trade object from a foreign country or made by Tang craftsmen based on a design they saw from the West. The bull's head can be seen clearly with the horns suggested by the variations on the handle.

The cup was fashioned from a single block of agate. The cup is 6.5 centimeters in height, 15.6 centimeters long and 5.9 centimeters in diameter. The material selected for making the cup is a whole block of rare red agate with stripes. It is considered to be one of the most precious objects in the museum.












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Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010