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Jade Cup with Chinese Inscription

Unknown Mughal Artist

On View: Asian Galleries, Arts of South Asia, 2nd floor

Gift exchange, tribute, the spread of religion, and overland as well as maritime trade were major transmitters of motifs, designs, and techniques between China and the Roman Empire, Iran, and India. Primary goods, such as medicinal herbs, spices, animals (especially horses), animal products, ores, and metals traveled east to China, while silk products, ceramics, metal wares, paper, printed texts, and mint coins traveled west.The Chinese Qianlong reign mark inscribed on the base of this carved jade cup produced in Mughal India testifies to the great distances some objects traveled over space and time and how they belonged to different owners at different times. The cup's shape may have derived from similar objects produced in Iran under the Timurids (1370–1507), while the acanthus motifs on its shoulders and handles recall India’s contact with Europe under the Mughals (1526–1858).

MEDIUM Carved Jade
DATES mid 17th century
PERIOD Qianlong reign mark
DIMENSIONS at base: 3 1/4 x 2 1/8 in. (8.3 x 5.4 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Qianlong reign mark (1736-1795) on base
INSCRIPTIONS Inscription of 4 characters in center of base, reading "Qianlongnian zhi" (Made in the Qianlong Era)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
PROVENANCE Prior to 1977, provenance not yet documented; by 1977, acquired by an unidentified London dealer; 1977, purchased from an unidentified London dealer by Alastair Bradley and Edith Martin of Glen Head, NY; 1978, gift of Alastair Bradley and Edith Martin to the Brooklyn Museum
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Small translucent dark green jade jug or jarlet covered with acanthus leaf relief decoration around shoulder and lower part of body over a repeated vertical stripe design on neck and body. Two curved handles in the shape of a downturned acanthus bud. Design on neck is contained in 4 over-lapping petal shapes. Squared-off circular foot contains incised mark of Qianlong (1736-1795). Branch and bud design on sides at handle. Jade vessels carved in this style are believed to have been made in India in the 17th century and then collected by the Chinese emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. They were highly influential in the jade-carving workshops of China, where a "Hindustani" style of jades were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries, borrowing elements of form and surface decoration from Indian traditions. It can be difficult to discern the Indian prototypes from some of the better Chinese imitators, but this piece is generally thought to be Indian because of its extremely fine, thin carving, the naturalism of the acanthus-bud handles, and the mottled, olive-green color of the jade (preferred by Indian connoisseurs but not usually appreciated by the Chinese). Condition: Some surface abrasion on interior and pitting on rim. Natural crack at one side of body near handle. Otherwise good.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Arts of South Asia, 2nd floor
CAPTION Unknown Mughal Artist. Jade Cup with Chinese Inscription, mid 17th century. Carved Jade, at base: 3 1/4 x 2 1/8 in. (8.3 x 5.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 78.7. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 78.7_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 78.7_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Unknown Mughal Artist. <em>Jade Cup with Chinese Inscription</em>, mid 17th century. Carved Jade, at base: 3 1/4 x 2 1/8 in. (8.3 x 5.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 78.7. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 78.7_PS9.jpg)