Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Glittering Night Cup - Yeguang Cup of Jiuquan, Sichuan Province

The Yeguang Cup, literally "the Glittering Night Cup," is a special jade craftwork from Jiuquan in the province of Gansu in Northwest China. Jiuquan is an ancient town with a 2,000-year history.
The cup is a precious drinking vessel, made of fine jade quarried from Mt. Qilian. When the cup is filled with wine and put under moonlight, it shines as bright as the moon light. That is why people call it the Glittering Night Cup.

It is said as early as in the Zhou Dynasty (about 1100 BC - 221 BC), the luminous cups had been presented as tributes to the court. Legend says that King Mu (10th century B.C.) of the Zhou Dynasty once drank with this cup and found it glittering snow-white in the moonlight. It was then named the ""Glittering Night Cup." It became more famous after the Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Wang Han sang of it in the following lines:
Grape wine in luminous cups shine.
As we raise them to lips the pipa strikes up fast.
Laugh not if we fall drunk on the battlefield.
Tell us how many ever returned from the war.

Since ancient times, the Qilian Mountains of Gansu have produced a brilliant white, green, black and yellow jade. . Local artisans grind and polish it into either pure, or mixed color wine cups. They vary in shape, size and material. Traditional luminous cups include fat-bottomed cups, high-legged cups and tea-set cups. Cups in the style of the ancient times are Jue (wine vessels with three legs and a loop handle), Gong (made from horns) and Zun (wine goblets), with cut designs. All of them are simple and elegant crystal with natural veins of color. They are all the more cherished because they can withstand sudden contact with extreme heat or cold.

There are 28 steps in making the cups, and six categories of Jinquan cups in over 30 shapes.
Jinquan today has a well-established factory specializing in the making of such luminous cups. Nowadays, visitors to the town, apart from seeing the Jiayuguan Pass, the western end of the Great Wall, all wish to make a tour of this factory, buying a few cups as souvenirs.
By Explore Cultural China

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