Central Asia, possibly Sogdian
Silver; H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Friends of Asian Art, Purchase, and Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon Gift, 1998 (1998.223)
This silver cup stands on a flaring conical foot. The cup forms a corolla with two rows of petals, worked in repoussé, alternately pointing up and down. On the inside, the concave petal motifs are surmounted by a circular band of beaded relief and a lip that curves outward. The rest of the surface is plain except for a slight thickening at the base of the foot.
The piece was most likely produced in the ancient country of Sogdiana centered on the Zeravshan River valley in present-day Uzbekistan. From the fifth through the ninth centuries, Sogdiana produced a rich body of art, particularly wall paintingsfrom sites such as Panjikent and Varakhshaand metalwork. At about the same time, Sogdians played a major role in the overland trade linking West and East Asia, and merchants from this region are known to have lived in China in some number. As a result, many examples of Sogdian metalwork have been excavated in China, where they were influential in transmitting technologies, shapes, and motifs.