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Silver Cup Made by Zhu Bishan in the Shape of a Tree-like Canoe

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Period: Yuan dynasty (1272-1368)
Medium: silver
Dimensions: height: 18 cm, length: 20 cm

This silver canoe is shaped like an old tree trunk with one end curling upward and covered with the rugged texture of a pine bark. A Taoist wearing a Taoist hat, thick-soled shoes and a long, ample robe sits on the canoe with his eyes riveted on a book in his hand. The two words for "Dragon canoe" are carved on the stern of the canoe. The 15 characters carved on the rim of the cup say, "Carrying jade-like wine for one's own enjoyment; floating along the Milky Way to heaven -- by Du Ben." Carved on the bottom of the canoe in the regular script is a poem, which reads: Li Bai became crazy after a hundred cups; Old Liu Ling was always intoxicated. Only those who knew the pleasure of drinking Left their memory behind in the world. Carved behind the stern in regular script are 21 more characters, which say, "In the year Yi You of the Zhizheng period, Zhu Bishan made this in the Hall of Eternal Spring in eastern Wu to be preserved by his sons and grandsons," together with the impression of a seal with the two characters for "Hua Yu" in the seal script. The silver cup was cast and then carved into shape. The head, hands and shoes of the Taoist were welded on without leaving traces of the welding. The silver canoe combines the characteristics of traditional painting and sculpture and marks the technical and artistic level of silver casting of the Yuan period. It is a highly significant object for the study of the history of development of art in the Yuan dynasty.

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