The increasing demand for rhinoceros horn antiques was demonstrated yet again yesterday (July 8), when a Chinese libation cup carved from the coveted material sold for $130,000 at a Beverly Hills auction.
The Asian and International Fine Arts sale saw the majestic piece sell comfortably within its $125,000-150,000 estimate, with its final realisation spurred by its impressive size. Measuring 18.5 inches, the cup is something of a rarity, with the majority of similar rhino horn works coming in well below this.
A stunning example, the libation cup was exquisitely carved with openwork flowers and fruits on budding vines, and dates to the late 18th century from China's Qianlong dynasty. Presented on an elaborately carved horn stand, the item was noted for its superb colouration.
The growing numbers of Chinese collectors are partially responsible for the surge of interest in rhino horn. Some also attribute the rise to the perceived healing properties of rhinoceros horn in Chinese medicine, while others state that more items are appearing on the market simply because of the impressive prices achieved at past auctions. Whatever the reason, buyers should ensure that items are responsibly sourced before placing their bid.
The auction also saw another, smaller rhinoceros horn cup sell for $30,000, while an elaborate ivory grouping of Guanyin, a type of Buddhist bodhishatva, achieved $13,000.
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