Date: 6th century
Culture: Central Asia, Sogdia
Dimensions: H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm); Diam. 5 7/8 in. (14.9 cm)
Credit Line: Friends of Asian Art, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon Gift, 1998
Accession Number: 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 paintings—from sites such as Panjikent and Varakhsha—and 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.