Enquiry about object: 6608

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    Early Pair of China-Trade Woven Cane Silvered Wine Cups

    Ming Dynasty, 17th century

    diameter: 6.8cm, height: 3.9cm, combined weight: 46g



    Private Collection, UK.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    These beautiful, delicate wine cups were produced in China in the seventeenth century for export to Europe. They comprise a thin copper substrate that has been silvered, lacquered, and then covered in a woven casing made of the finest strips or slithers of bamboo. The flared feet and the interior bowls are of silvered copper, and the rest is of woven bamboo.

    The weaving is remarkable and wire-like.

    This type of cup is known only from old European collections, so it seems that such cups were made for the early export market from China to Europe.

    A pair, for example, was in the collection of Carl Kempe (1884-1967) of Sweden and were illustrated in Gyllensvard (1954). They were attributed to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) or later. A 17th century dating is correct however, because three similar examples are first recorded as having entered the Royal Danish Kunstkammer (the Cabinet of Curiosities of the Danish royal family) in the 17th century. These are illustrated in Gundestrap (1991, p. 3, 48, 87).  Other similar examples from old royal German collections are illustrated in Seipal (200, p. 269) and these are all attributed to the 17th century.

    The pair here are in fine condition. There is age-related wear to the silvering on the inside of the cups.


    Gundestrap, B., The Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1737, Vol. II, Nationalmuseet, 1991.

    Gyllensvard, B., Chinese Gold & Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954.

    Seipal, W. (ed.), Exotica: Portugals Entdeckungen im Spiegel furstlicher Kusnt – und Wunderkammern der Renaissance, Skira, 2000.

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