Rhinoceros horn cups of this type were made by cutting the narrow tip of the horn and then pulling it apart after the horn had been made pliable through soaking. The legs are then curved outwards so that the cup can stand securely.
The present cup is raised on three legs that are integral to the stems and branches of the lingzhi and magnolia carved around the sides. This same naturalistic continuation of the legs into the decoration carved on the sides can be seen on a three-legged cup in the Qing Court collection illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 44 - Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, no. 108, which is carved with a leaf-tied lotus stem and water plants, and mallow. (Fig. 1) See, also, the very similar cup from the Du Breuil Collection, sold in our London rooms, 19 June 2001, lot 154.