A rare well-carved rhinoceros horn 'Lotus' libation cup, 17th century


Lot 8. A rare well-carved rhinoceros horn 'Lotus' libation cup, 17th century, 6½ in. (16.4 cm.) wide. Estimate GBP 100,000 - GBP 150,000Price realised GBP 121,250. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011

Thickly carved within the natural shape of the horn inside and out as a lotus leaf, with stems of gently curled leaves tied with a ribbon to form the handle, one side with a lotus blossom in full bloom, the other with a lotus pod above a small snail, surrounded by flaring petals, the horn of a warm caramel tone

NoteIt is rare to find rhinoceros horn cups carved with a small water snail to the side, such as in the current lot. For another cup also incorporating water snails into the decoration, from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, see Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 188, pl. 258. 

Christie'sFine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 10 May 2011, London, King Street