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Rhinoceros-horn Cup Carved with a Bird

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: rhinoceros horn
Dimensions: height: 5.4 cm, mouth diameter: 10.3 - 7.1 cm, foot diameter: 3.5 - 2.2 cm

Overlooking the funnel-shaped cup, we can see an elliptical flared mouth, narrow at one end for water flowing out and wide at the other as the tail. A distinct ridge on the interior can be seen between the mouth and the body. 
  Carved in low relief on the exterior, the pattern seems abstruse at first glance; however, if the cup is upside down, it can be recognized as a bird.
  The bird’s head is at the foot, the crest is at the toe of the cup; the bird has a clearly distinguished beak, eyes and feathers, folded wings, hunched shoulders and a tipped-up tail. The design is bold in outline and vivid in expression. A rare animal is held in the beak as if it is wriggling its slender body to escape.
  In ancient folklore, chicken were regarded as beneficent birds, the natural enemy of Five Poisons, which included scorpions, vipers, centipedes, house lizards and toads. Therefore, a chicken pecking poisonous creatures became an auspicious design. The unique pattern on this cup seems to be romanticized for display and amusement.

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