Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art

Carved Coconut Tea Cup – Pewter/Silver Lined - Qing

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Wood: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1143475

Please refer to our stock # 18 when inquiring.
Here we have a very fine carved coconut tea cup with a design of Shou symbols surrounded with Buddhist icons of The Endless Knot (See footnotes) and stylized clouds.

The cup measures 3 1/8” diameter at the top and is 1 5/8” high at the rim. This early Qing dynasty cup was carved from a coconut shell, and lined with pewter metal which was probably originally coated with silver. The Chinese believed that silver would tarnish when in contact with poison. Many wealthy Chinese liked to use silver lined cups and chopsticks tipped with silver fittings was an assurance against poisoning.

The cup is in excellent condition with fine patina – no chips or cracks – the expected tarnishing of the lining We date the cup to the late 18th to early 19th Century, Qing Dynasty.

Footnotes: Shòu is the ancient Chinese word/character for "longevity” or long life. A coconut shell wine cup, dated to the 16th / 17th century, was included in the exhibition of "Arts from the Scholar's Studio", Hong Kong 1986, and illustrated in the catalog, p.260, pl.256.

The Endless Knot signifies the dramatic interplay and interaction of the opposing forces in the dualistic world of manifestation, leading to their union, and ultimately to harmony in the universe. This fact is amply reflected in the symmetrical and regular form of the endless knot. The intertwining of lines reminds us how all phenomena are conjoined and yoked together as a closed cycle of cause and effect. Thus the whole composition is a pattern that is closed on in itself with no gaps, leading to a representational form of great simplicity and fully balanced harmony.

Since all phenomena are interrelated, the placing of the endless knot on a gift or greeting card is understood to establish an auspicious connection between the giver and the recipient. At the same time, the recipient is goaded to righteous karma, being reminded that future positive effects have their roots in the causes of the present. This is because the knot represents a connection, a link with our fates, binding us to our karmic destiny.