Eared Cup (Erbei) with Warming Stand (Lu), late Western Han-early Eastern Han, 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D. Bronze. Cup: 3.6 × 12.6 × 10.6 cm; Stand: 9.7 × 24 × 12 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection, 1930.363.

Eared cups with warming stands were probably used to heat sauces for meat. Each side of these warming stands is cast with one of the Animals of the Four Directions (si shen)—the Green Dragon of the East, the White Tiger of the West, the Black Warrior (tortoise and snake) of the North, and the Red Bird of the South. In Han art, the pervasive appearance of these symbolic animals reflects a desire to center the owner within the favorable influences of the universe.