CHINA TOPIX

Updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue, Jan 05, 2021

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Liu Yi Qian Drinks from 500-year Old ‘Chicken Cup’, Sparks Controversy


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A Chinese billionaire named Liu Yi Qian, who purchased one of the rare Qing Dynasty Chenghua Meiyintang 'chicken' cups at an auction, was photographed taking a sip from the antique cup, sparking outrage among antique enthusiasts around the world.

The 'chicken' cups, named after its elaborate design of chicken and cockerel, were said to be the 'holy grail' of Chinese porcelain previously owned by an emperor named Qianlong.

The antique cups were said to be an estimated 500 years old and only 17 are in existence, four of which are in private hands while others are in museums in Britain.

The 15th-century 'chicken' cup measures 3.1 inches in diameter and was purchased by the Shanghai-based billionaire for US$38 million dollars.

Liu Yi Qian is an eccentric art collector and his purchase made headlines in China and in the antiquity world after he drank tea from the cup while paying for the item.

Others, however, didn't take his actions lightly.

Many people were horrified when his photograph drinking from the cup was released by the media.

Liu Yi Qian was then labeled crass and vain for doing such a thing.

"A Sotheby's staffer poured me some tea. I saw this and excitedly poured some of that tea into the cup and drank a little. Such a simple thing, what is so crazy about that?" Liu said.

Comments were thrown at the billionaire for what he did and a commentator wrote, "What happens if you chip it? This cup is small, thin and easily broken. Almost 600 years of history will vanish."

Others have also mentioned his utter lack of respect for antiques, but as a response, the billionaire told a media outlet that he didn't have any intention to use the cup to drink tea every day.

To calm the angered parties, he said, "I am just a normal human being. Human beings can be passionate. No one has seen this cup for 20 years. I just wanted to take a sip."

Others refuted the accusations made against him.

Liu Yi Qian is one of the 152 richest men in China and is also known as an art connoisseur who has a vast collection of expensive artworks that includes a Qing Dynasty imperial throne.

Still, others think that he shouldn't have used the Chenghua Meiyintang 'chicken' cup and that he should have treated it with the reverence the antique deserved.

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