Erin C. Harten '20, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Department 1



On display in the “Wonders of Nature and Artifice” exhibit at Gettysburg College is an exquisitely carved Chinese rhinoceros horn cup decorated with many images of animals, from dragons to tortoises.The rhinoceros horn has been noted by the Chinese as early as the T’ang dynasty (618-907) to have magical properties, and it was believed that when a poisonous liquid was poured into a rhino horn, the horn would change colors to alert to the presence of poison.Due to these magical properties, rhinoceros horns have been regarded as especially valuable. [excerpt]


Produced as part of a collaboration between Kay Etheridge's course FYS-188: Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance, and Felicia Else's course ARTH 284: Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.

Original version online at