East Asia, China, Warring States Period to early Han Dynasty, ca. 475 BCE to 43 CE. A extremely rare example of a rock crystal ear cup (known as "erbei") of an ovoid form. The curved-bottomed cup has gently expanding walls which taper towards the top and create the thin rim from which a pair of semicircular "ear" handles project. The rock crystal is clear and translucent but has faint red/orange age deposits on its surface that give it a glass-like appearance. Cups like this example were heavily employed by the Chu peoples and were traditionally used for drinking wine, and the purpose of the handles was to provide stability so that none of the liquid was spilled. Size: 3.55" W x 0.95" H (9 cm x 2.4 cm)
For a similar example, see Roger Chow, "Sparkling Splendours: The Art of Ancient Chinese Carvings on Rock Crystal and Agate, the Taoshi Zhai Collection", Hong Kong: The Art Museum, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000, no. 220, pg. 209.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Joe Gerena collection, New York, USA, 1990s
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