Jade rhyton

From China
Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century AD

Copying an ancient form

This cup takes the form of the traditional horn-shaped rhyton in China. It stands vertically on a flat, narrow base, widening to an uneven lip. An inscription is carved around the inside of the lip. The outside surface is carved with wave-like scrolls, where sea creatures frolic, carved in bold relief. The lower half of the cup is held in the mouth of a fish or dragon, whose tail twists up along the side of the cup.

The rhyton is a shape imported from Western or Central Asia. Jade examples were introduced to China during the Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220), when Western luxuries were popular at court. A rhyton from the tomb of the king of Nan Yue (around 122 BC) is a well-known example. His tomb contained a great many jades, many collected from earlier periods.

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More information


J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)


Height: 17.700 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1937.4-16.27



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