Ref. Number: 757

Country: China

Period: 19th Cent.

Material: Bamboo

Dimension: 1000x2000cm

For ancient Chinese scholars, items used in their studies were not merely for practical purposes – just as often they represented the aesthetic tastes of their owners.

Engraved Chinese brush pot in Bamboo

There are many other valuable articles besides the traditional “four treasures of the study” – the brush pen, ink stick, ink slab and rice paper. Brush pots for holding brush pens are just as important as the other four “treasures.”

During the Ming and early Ch’ing dynasties, brush pots used by the literati were made of wood, bamboo, porcelain, lacquer, and even jade. The preference, however, seems to have been for objects done in so-called “organic taste” where the mellow colors of carved bamboo, unusual grains of waxed hardwood, and the natural forms found in nature, like the one shown here, were most appreciated.

Used to store brushes, brush pots, like ink stones, were an important symbol of a scholar’s refinement and, as with many scholar’s objects, they were often decorated with appropriate literati subject matter. Inscribed with poetry as well as the signatures and seals of their makers, those made of bamboo became highly collectible.

“Organic taste” literati objects reflected the quiet simplicity and contemplative aspect of a scholar’s existence and emphasized his communion with nature.

´╗┐The carvings on antique brush pots can be generally catalogued as yang carving and ying carving. The yang carving is when the patterns are raised and ying carving is when the patterns are etched.

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