(Chinese, c. 1300-aft 1362)
Hammered silver soldered together, with chased decoration
Overall: 16 cm (6 5/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1977.7
The traditional understanding of the silver vessel 's function is that it was supposed to hold wine.
The figure watching the stars is believed to be the messenger Zhang Qian (died 114 BCE). Legend says he lost his way in the Milky Way, where he met the Weaving Maid who gave him a stone from her loom. Zhang, in fact, holds a slab inscribed loom stone. The vessel is dated, inscribed, and has a seal of the silversmith Zhu Bishan, from Zhejiang province, who ran a workshop in the Lake Tai area near Suzhou. Zhu is one of the few Chinese silversmiths known by name, producing silverware so desirable that his name was used like a trademark by his competitors and followers. Made of pure silver, and shaped like a hollow log, the cup was assembled from several silver pieces that were then soldered together.
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