Ear Cup

Accession Number

Ear Cup


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
25-220 CE

Medium & Support
earthenware with glaze

1 3/8 in x 4 5/8 in x 3 11/16 in (3.49 cm x 11.75 cm x 9.37 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

Subject matter
By the Western Han dynasty, basic household bowls, plates, basins, jars, etc. were produced in great quantity, not only for use in daily life, but also specifically for tombs as mingqi (明器) (literally bright objects), or grave goods, as a way to provide for the deceased.  These mingqi included everything one would need during the afterlife. Naturally, these objects reflected daily life during the Han.  Mingqi could include houses, towers, gates, granaries, livestock pens, chicken coops, wells, cooking stoves, storage vessels, dishes, incense burners, lamps and figures such as horses, dogs, anthropomorphic animals, and people such as officials, guardians, servants and entertainers, and more.  The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects. 

Ear cups such as this would be made for "wine" or ale drinking. Cups of this form were made in a variety of materials, and in this case were probably made in ceramic as a less expensive alternative to lacquer. 

Physical Description
A red earthenware ear cup (erbei 二杯) with an ovoid body with two opposing wing-like handles applied to the rim.  It was covered in a green lead glaze with iridescence and calcification.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
bowls (vessels)
ceramics (object genre)
cups (drinking vessels)
grave goods
lead glaze
wine cups

2 Related Resources

Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Cabinet F: Shelf 3
(Part of: Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 205 (Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery) ➜ Cabinet F ➜ Shelf 3