One of the world’s rare Chinese Chicken Cups fetched a record $36 million (USD) at an auction on Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, making it one of the most expensive Chinese cultural relics ever auctioned. The Cup auctioned is part of a set of original Chenghua Chicken Cups which survive from the Forbidden City. Another of the original and very rare Chicken Cups is now on display inside The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors exhibition presented by the H.N. Ho Family Foundation and lead sponsor Manulife.
The Chicken Cup on display at the ROM is preserved from the Chenghua period (1465 to 1487), and was produced with the finest and rarest Ming porcelain. Its design depicts a rooster, hen, and two chicks in a garden. Emperor Chenghua, aware of his mother’s fondness for small utensils, had this delicate Chicken Cup made expressly for her to use as a small wine cup. There are less than a dozen original Ming Dynasty Chicken Cups in museum and private collections worldwide, with only a few of them available for public viewing.