Ladle with goose-shaped finial, Tang dynasty (618-907). Beaten silver. Length: 19.4 cm. From the Eumorfopoulos collection, purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committe, M.101-1938 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017.

Silver ladle with long curved handle ending as a duck's head and an almost hemispherical bowl.

This ladle was probably used in preparation for drinking; a smaller, flatter type of spoon would have been used during the same period for food.

Silver objects were not so highly coveted in China as in other ancient civilisations such as the Roman or the Parthian, but they became important luxury items for emperors and high-ranking officials during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-960). By the beginning of the 7th century large quantities of silver pieces with exotic shapes and styles were imported along the Silk Road from Iran and Central Asia to China. Chinese craftsmen often reproduced foreign shapes and acquired new manufacturing techniques from Central Asian silversmiths who had settled in Chinese urban centres beginning in the mid 7th century.