A Chinese wine cup decorated with chickens is expected to break records at auction today, when experts suggest it could easily clear 235 yuan, or $38 million.
According to Shanghaiist, the small, stemless white porcelain cup is decorated with painted flowers and a scene with a hen and rooster tending a few baby chicks. It was produced during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with Sotheby’s saying the cup was made specifically between 1465 and 1487.
"That period, in terms of porcelain production, was really the peak of material refinement," said Nicholas Chow the deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, who told the South China Morning Post that the chicken design was popular with emperors and thus copied extensively. "When you buy a chicken cup ... you don't just buy the object, you're buying centuries of imperial admiration for these objects," he said.
The cup is one of only 19 such chicken cups known to exist, and only four are currently in private collections.
Chow added that the wine cup will be sold today at auction, and it’s expected to sell for more than any other Chinese works of art or porcelain.