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Nuptial Wine Cup Carved by Zigang

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Period: Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: jade
Date: undated
Dimensions: height: 8.3 cm, mouth diameter: 5.8 cm

A pair of little dragons embrace the two interlocking cups which are bound with rope. The cups share a carved phoenix-shaped handle. Between the knots of the rope is a square decoration with the Chinese characters "wan shou" meaning long life. Each side has a poem in Chinese archaic seal script (zhuan shu) carved in relief. The craftsman engraved his name Zigang on the edge of one cup, and incised the following poem,   
    Auspicious clouds accumulate from all directions,   
    Auspicious sun will shine brightly for a thousand springs.   
    Wishing the emperor a life of ten-thousand years,   
    With drink and enjoyment in the Phoenix City.  
  The edge of the other cup bears three Chinese characters "hejin bei" (nuptial wine cup). The poem is as follows,   
    The uncut jade is gentle,   
    It was carved and polished;   
    It contains jade-like wine,   
    For all under heaven to celebrate.   
  According to the inscription, the second poem was composed by the famous poet Zhu Yunming (1460-1526). The nuptial wine cup was made for emperors' wedding ceremonies in the Ming dynasty. It was made by the jade master Lu Zigang (active the second half of fifteenth century), a contemporary of Zhu Yunming. Later jade craftsmen imitated Mr. Lu's works because of their outstanding quality.

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