2

Gold Cup with Jewel Inlay: Eternal Territorial Integrity, Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty, height: 12.5 cm, mouth diameter: 8 cm © The Palace Museum. 

This gold cup in the shape of a round tripod has a straight mouth rim with a band of rectangular spiral patterns around it. The four characters for "Eternal Territorial Integrity" are carved on one side of the cup, and the four characters for "Made in the Qianlong reign," on the other side. Rosette designs cover the entire outside surface of the cup with the pistils inlaid with pearls, ruby, sapphire and other jewels. The two handles are shaped as stylized dragons with pearls inlaid on the dragon heads. The three legs are in the shape of elephant heads with small ears, long tusks and curled trunks. The foreheads and eyes of the elephants are inlaid with jewels. During the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, wine cups of all styles were made by the palace's Department of Works. Many of them had dragon-shaped handles of different styles. But very few had elephant-shaped legs. This gold cup is one of the best both in design and in craftsmanship and was made especially for use by the emperor.