Previously sold at Christie's London, 4 December, 1997, lot 399.
The inscription on the rockwork can be translated as:
The tiger comes with the wind, the dragon comes with the water
The poem can be translated as follows:
The overnight rain in the valley has turned a thousand rocks green,
A hundred waterfalls and ten thousand trees roar in a chorus.
This scene should be celebrated by a poem,
The days spent in the mountains are unforgettable.
The scene depicted around the sides of the cup and in the poem are taken from the Song dynasty poem entitled 'Latter Ode to the Red Cliff', the second section of the 'Ode to the Red Cliff' in which the three friends re-visit the red cliffs in the winter of 1032. Far from the tranquil scene they had encountered on their first visit, they find themselves swept along by the torrential River Yangtze before stopping to climb the cliff. The scene is a very popular motif in Chinese art depicted in numerous media from the Song dynasty onwards. A number of rhinoceros horn carvings also depict various scenes from the poem including two in the Asian Civilization Museum, Singapore from the Edward and Franklin Chow collections illustrated by J. Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 290 and 345, the latter with the same scene as that on the present cup; and another in the Metropolitan Museum from the J.P. Morgan collection illustrated, ibid., pl. 289.