Chinese Scholar Items

Chinese Brush Pots – 中国笔筒

Chinese Brush Pots
A Chinese scholar possessed ‘Four Treasures’: a brush, ink, paper and ink stone, essential for practicing calligraphy and painting. Many other objects would be found on a scholar’s desk, which were used for writing and painting but also for activities such as drinking tea. Besides, Chinese scholars were often collectors of functional and inspirational objects which if they were small enough could decorate their desks.

In his ‘Vessels for the Studio’ Tu Long (1542-1605) listed as much as 45 different scholars’ objects, amongst which brush pots, seals, water droppers, wrist rests, scroll holders, paper weights and the less expected meditation lamps, evil-warding mirrors, rocks and swords. The objects were used for study, contemplation and stimulated social discourse.

Brush pots made of valuable materials and with elegant embellishments were held in great reverence. Together with wrist rests they were often made of bamboo, making use of a natural curvature, but also of wood, porcelain, lacquer and jade. Natural materials and themes were most appreciated by scholars. Brush pots were decorated with scenes of literati subject matters, inscribed with poetry and marked with the seals of their makers, not unlike paintings. They were sometimes kept bare so as to emphasise their natural and sometimes unusual forms.

Chinese Wood Brush Pots

Precious hardwoods such as huang huali or zitan were admired for their exquisite grain but were sometimes carved to imitate humbler materials such as bamboo or gnarled root, because scholars were not meant to be interested in monetary value; on the contrary they aspired to escape mundane concerns.

中国古代文人书写绘画所用的笔墨纸砚被称为文房四宝。许多在书桌上可以看到的文具器物也可以用于饮茶等其他活动。除此以外,文人们也常常收集细致精巧的摆件来装饰自己的书桌。明代屠隆在他的《考槃余事》中记载了具有代表性的四十五种文房器玩, 其中有笔筒,印章,水注,臂搁,画筒,镇纸,以及不常见的禅灯,辟邪镜,赏石,与裁刀。这些文具既可用于读书写字,也可用作思考或文人交际时的器物。

Huanghuali Chinese Wooden Brush Pots


Rosalie Fabre


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