15th century chicken cup sets new world record for Chinese artwork

A rare 15th century Meiyintang "chicken cup" has set a new world record for a Chinese work of art after achieving an impressive $36.2m at Sotheby's Hong Kong earlier today.

It achieved an increase of 15.8% pa on its previous sale figure of $4m, set in 1999.

The piece was produced for the Chenghua emperor (1465-1487) and is considered among the greatest treasures of medieval China.

chicken cup Sotheby's
Chicken cups are considered among the finest examples of the Chinese porcelain tradition

Only 14 are known to exist, of which three are currently in circulation on the private market.

The cups are coveted for their simple, unmannered design - which depicts a rooster, hen and chicks in tribute to the emperor's role as the guardian of his people.

In the past, the coveted bowl has formed the centrepiece of some of the most significant collections of Chinese art ever assembled - including the Meiyintang and Sakamoto Goro collections.

Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia and international head of fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, commented prior to the sale: "Ever since the Ming dynasty when they were produced, Chenghua period 'chicken cups' have been praised and treasured by emperors and connoisseurs alike.

"Given their extreme rarity, they are by definition the crowning glory of any collection of Chinese porcelain."

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