The chicken cup, or Ji Gang Bei (Chinese: 鸡缸杯, full name: 成化斗彩鸡缸杯), is a precious art treasure in the history of china-making. During Chenghua reign of Ming Dynasty (1465-1487), the chicken cup was used exclusively by Emperor Chenghua as a spirit drinking cup.
The chicken cup has a complex craftsmanship. The original chicken cups were made with 3 major steps. First, thin blue lines were outlined; then, the clay was fired in the kiln at 1300℃/2372℉; finally, the cup was colored and fired again in a low temperature klin.
Because the only user of chicken cups was the emperor. The demand of quality was extreme. All substandard chicken cups were destroyed. Only a few existed outside the royal court. There are less than 20 original chicken cups in the world. Most of them are preserved in public museums. The original chicken cup is one of the most expensive artworks in the world today. In 2014, one original chicken cup were auctioned and purchased for USD 36.19 million by Chinese industrialist and collector Yiqian Liu.
See the original Sotheby’s listing video here:
Dehua, Quanzhou, Fujian, China