Published 8th October 2012
A Chinese libation cup will be included in the Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Fine Art sale, which will be held over two days on 31st October 2012 and 1st November 2012.
The libation cup is carved from rhino horn and decorated with fruiting vines rather than the more traditional prunus blossom. The cup measures 17.5cm long. Dating from the Kangxi period (1662-1722), the libation cup stands on a similarly decorated carved wood stand and weighs 222gm.
Libation cups were used as communal drinking vessels at important ceremonial occasions such as funerals. It was also believed that they could detect poison in a drink.
DEFRA have approved the sale of this item. However, it must be pointed out that a CITES re-export certificate is unlikely to be granted under the restrictions in force in the United Kingdom on rhino horn exports. The estimate is £20,000-£25,000.