From Buddhist scriptures, conch shells were traditionally blown as trumpets during Buddhist ceremonies, and as such they were considered as a symbol of the 'Voice of Buddha'. This current cup is an extremely rare example which combines the auspicious image of a conch shell with the marbled pottery technique.
Marbling, known as jiao tai in Chinese, became a popular decorative technique on ceramics of the Tang dynasty, and was applied to a number of different forms, including jars, cups, bowls, dishes and censers. Sections of marbling were also inlaid into larger items, such as pillows, for special decorative effect. The marbled appearance could be achieved either by combining clays of different colours when making the vessel, or by using two contrasting slips on the surface of the vessel. In either case the piece was afterwards covered with a transparent glaze.
A small cup with ring handle with similar marbling and amber glaze, formerly in the Anders Hellstrom Collection, is now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockhom, and is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collectons, vol. 8, Tokyo, 1982, no. 25.