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On view at the Museum: The Society Sector

Friendship cup

Contemporary Era, Europe
Typical for artisans from the Aosta Valley, this contemporary 'friendship cup' underscores how people have always cherished coming together around objects that symbolise companionship and sharing. A friendship cup is made of wood, and has two to eight spouts and a lid. Invented in the 20th century, it is related to the grolla, a vessel made of fine wood on a small base, that originated in the same region. While a grolla is normally for wine, a friendship cup is for coffee, prepared in local Aostan style, with spices, citrus fruit aromas, and flaming grappa. A symbol of conviviality, it represents a tradition still alive today: the vessel is passed around, each guest drinking from one of its spouts until it is empty. In its form and use, the friendship cup is in the tradition of drinking vessels that have a communal function, e.g., the ancient Greek krater, the Holy Chalice or the large bowl in the Japanese tea ceremony.


  • Type: Drinking vessel
  • Place of origin: Italy
  • Materials and techniques: Wood
  • Date: 2000
  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 23.5 cm
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