Silver Cha (Wine Utensil) Made by Zhu Bishan

 

Yuan Dynasty
Height: 18cm
Length: 20cm

This silver cha (cha originally refers to tree branches, here it means a type of wine utensil shaped like a branch) is modeled after juniper branches, shaped like the forks of an old tree. A Taoist monk donning a broad-sleeved long Taoist robe is sitting on the curve. He wears a Taoist hair fastener and shoes embroidered with cloud patterns, with both eyes focusing on the book in his hand.

There are two characters "long cha" (meaning "dragon cha") chiseled on the end of the front side, with fifteen characters in running regular script chiseled under the rim of the cup. The characters read, "Zhu yuye er zichang, fan yinhan yi lingxu. Du Ben Ti", which can be generally translated as "I would like to drink the wine in the cha to my heart's content, which would make me feel like flying in the Milky Way up in the sky. By Du Ben."

There's another poem of twenty characters in regular script carved on the belly of the cha. The poem means "Wine lovers like Li Bai and Liu Ling live on for their good taste in wine". At the end of the cha, twenty-one characters are chiseled, indicating the date mark of the cha. According to the date mark, the cha was made in a "yiyou" year by Zhu Bishan in Weitang of Suzhou. And there's another mark in seal script next to the date mark, bearing two Chinese characters, "Huayu".

This silver cha was first cast and then engraved, with the head, hands, and shoes being welded after the cast. The welding joints can hardly be detected. This craftwork, featuring traditional painting and sculpture, is a testament to the high technical and artistic levels of silver casting in the Yuan Dynasty.