The ritual of pouring a liquid finds its beginnings in many religions of antiquity, from Ancient Egypt to Greece and Rome. During libation ceremonies, milk, wine or tea was poured in offer to a god or to commemorate the dead.

This Chinese chen xiang, otherwise known as agarwood, libation cup comes from the Chinese tradition of pouring rice wine or tea at an altar in offering to the gods and as a ritual of respect to those who has passed.

A Chinese chen xiang (agarwood) libation cup A Chinese chen xiang (agarwood) libation cup

This particular piece is made of agar wood, a dark resinous wood that is one of the world's most expensive natural raw materials.

Extremely rare examples of Chinese libation cups have sold at auction in figures in excess of £2 million. Search realised prices for libation cups here.

Dawson's are offering the Chinese chen xiang (agarwood) libation cup which features carved decoration depicting lavish gardens, hanging vines and birds in their Asian Art auction on 20th May, 2017. Check out the full catalogue here.