The Jack Daulton Collection
Antique & Ethnographic Art

ritual cup of a shaman, 

Yi people,

19th century


ritual cup of a shaman (bimo)

Yi people (also known as the Nuosuo people or the Lolo people)

China (Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces), Vietnam, Thailand

end of 19th century - beginning of 20th century

coconut half-shell, lacquered and mounted on a raptor-foot base (probably the foot of a mountain hawk-eagle)

height approx. 6 inches; diameter of cup approx. 3.5 inches

Two very similar cups are on display in the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, the French national museum of ethnographic art, accession numbers 70.2004.7.1-7 and 70.2004.8.1-2.

"Eagle-leg cups ... were reserved for the consumption of alcohol by [shamans and other] high-ranking persons during official ceremonies.  The painted motifs ... evoke the eyes ... of the buffalo," an animal associated with fecundity and wealth.  Musée du Quai Branly, exhibition label, 2021.  [English-language translation, Jack Daulton]

view of interior of cup:
photograph of a similar cup being used by a Yi shaman in a 2017 ceremony in Yunnan Province, China:
source: China News Service, 2017
The Daulton Collection