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Ear Cup


Artwork Details

Ear Cup
25-220 CE
earthenware with glaze
1 3/8 in x 4 5/8 in x 3 11/16 in (3.49 cm x 11.75 cm x 9.37 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

By the Western Han dynasty, basic household bowls, plates, basins, jars, etc. were produced in great quantity, not only for use in daily life, but also specifically for tombs as mingqi (明器) (literally bright objects), or grave goods, as a way to provide for the deceased.  These mingqi included everything one would need during the afterlife. Naturally, these objects reflected daily life during the Han.  Mingqi could include houses, towers, gates, granaries, livestock pens, chicken coops, wells, cooking stoves, storage vessels, dishes, incense burners, lamps and figures such as horses, dogs, anthropomorphic animals, and people such as officials, guardians, servants and entertainers, and more.  The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects. 

Ear cups such as this would be made for "wine" or ale drinking. Cups of this form were made in a variety of materials, and in this case were probably made in ceramic as a less expensive alternative to lacquer. 

Physical Description:

A red earthenware ear cup (erbei 二杯) with an ovoid body with two opposing wing-like handles applied to the rim.  It was covered in a green lead glaze with iridescence and calcification.

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