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Gold cup with chased motifs, China, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD). Height: 4 cm, Diameter: 7 cm. Museum no. M.30-1935. From the Eumorfopoulos collection, purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee [Art Fund logo] [2007].  © V&A Images. 

Gold cup with a flange above a loop handle, decorated with a band of zig-zag and dots chased along the rim, a lotus flower on the bottom and floral scrolls on the flange.

Gold and silver were not as highly coveted in China as in other ancient civilisations such as the Roman or the Parthian, but they came to play a more central role in Chinese society by the beginning of the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) when frequent trade contacts between China and its western neighbours developed along the Silk Road. Chinese goldsmiths often imitated the foreign shapes and styles of the imported goods and developed new techniques under the influence of Central Asian craftsmen who had settled in Chinese urban centers beginning in the mid 7th century.

This cup was probably used to drink alcohol and clearly shows how foreign shapes were imitated during the Tang dynasty.

Bibliographic ReferencesRose Kerr (ed.), Chinese Art and Design. The T.T.Tsui Gallery of Chinese Art. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, p. 72, fig. 78 
Whitfield, Susan. The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. London: The British Library, 2004, p. 239, pl. 169.

ExhibitionThe Silk Road Trade, Travel, War and Faith (British Library 01/04/2004-30/04/2004)

NoteOriginally attributed to the Tang dynasty. Prof Qi Dongfang dated it to the Yuan dynasty on the basis of its shape, decorative style, and use (22/09/2009).