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  • Place of origin:

    China (Probably, made)

  • Date:

    1800 to 1882 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Agate, carved and polished using abrasives.

  • Credit Line:

    Wells Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This agate cup was most probably fashioned in China in the 19th century. Although it has been fashioned from translucent agate that has attractive markings, it lacks the delicacy and finesse to have been created for a wealthy or notable person. The "lucky fungus" form is a very typical motif in China and symbolises good fortune.

Physical description

A shallow cup of irregular rounded form, fashioned in translucent pale grey agate with occasional brown markings and with a polished finish. It is of one-piece construction with a handle at either end, one having been carved in the form of a two-tailed animal and the other in the form of a branch or stem which continues down into the external decoration of fungus forms carved in relief. The foot is formed from a combination of these forms and the tails of the animal from the other handle. The interior of the cup is smooth except for seven finely engraved lines that extend from the animal's chin.

Place of Origin

China (Probably, made)


1800 to 1882 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Agate, carved and polished using abrasives.


Length: 117.4 mm 1606-1882, Width: 82.2 mm 1606-1882, Height: 54.85 mm 1606-1882, Length: 81.7 mm 1606-1882, Width: 76.8 mm 1606-1882, Depth: 31.0 mm 1606-1882 +/- 1.0, Thickness: 1.7 to 2.5 mm Thickness of the wall at the rim

Object history note

This cup was most probably fashioned in China in the 19th century and it was acquired by Arthur Wells who was a Nottingham solicitor and Clerk of the Peace. He was a keen traveller and was made a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He is considered to be the first private British collector of Chinese jade and his collection of jade and other hardstone objects from South Asia was on exhibition at the South Kensington Museum at the time of his death in 1882. This collection was left to the museum in his will - the Wells Bequest.

Descriptive line

Cup, two handles, with external animal and "lucky fungus" forms in relief, agate, probably China, 19th century




Drinking; Food vessels & Tableware; Gemstones; Hardstone


South & South East Asia Collection

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