Nautilius goblet

Mathaeus Wallbaum
2 min
Year: Between 1610 and 1625



This is a treasure from the bottom of the sea! 

The object you’re looking at is called a nautilus cup. 

It’s made of silver, gold and rare seashells — and it’s over four hundred years old!  


Who’s the man with a fish’s tail? The man who’s holding a big bowl on his head, with a woman standing on top of it?   


The man with the fish’s tail is a sea god called Triton. The nautilus shell that he’s holding above his head comes from the Pacific Ocean, and originally it was home to a type of octopus. Nautilus have been described as living fossils, because they haven’t changed for five-hundred MILLION years! 

The woman standing on top of the nautilus shell is Venus, the goddess of love, and what’s happening here is: 



Venus is being born! 


Huh??? But she's a grown-up! 


So she is! She was already a grown-up when she was born! Venus was standing on a shell when she came up out of the sea, and inside the shell we see that she’s standing on a tortoise! A tortoise is a symbol for a long life. 

Today, the oldest tortoise in the world is called Jonathan. He is 186 years old! 


(very old voice) That’s a verrrrrrry old tortoise! 


… and look at the tiny man inside the fish’s mouth - he looks as though he’s shouting for help! 

He might be from a Bible story - in the Bible there’s a man called Jonah who gets swallowed by a whale.  

Meanwhile, the sea god Triton was said to sit at the bottom of the sea, blowing into a giant conch shell.  

(Blows into a conch shell)