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Silk Road Luxuries from China

Lobed cup with lion, foliage, and a ring of raised dots

Lobed cup with lion, foliage, and a ring of raised dots
Central Asia, Sogdiana, probably Uzbekistan, late 6th–early 7th century
Hammered silver with repoussé and chased decoration
Freer Gallery of Art F1997.13

Figures drink from shallow lobed cups like this in wall paintings found in an ancient temple near Samarkand in modern Uzbekistan. Similar vessels have been excavated in the same region in what was once the Central Asian kingdom of Sogdiana. While this cup bears two inscriptions in Sogdian that probably name its previous owners, it was reportedly unearthed in Luoyang, in China’s Henan province. Foreign luxury goods such as this, made of hammered silver and decorated with representational imagery, inspired Chinese metalworkers to use precious metals in creating other banqueting vessels.

sogdian couch textile silver mirrors ceramics
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As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.