Height: 3 inches, 7.5 cm
Width: 6 inches, 15.2 cm


‘Chickenbone’ jade ‘Bat and Peach’ brush washer

China, Qing dynasty, late 17th – 18th century

A large ‘chickenbone’ jade brush washer carved in the form of a peach, the interior well hollowed and polished to contain water. Around the inward-curved mouth there are five bats carved in relief, one looking down, the others looking just over the edge. The base is intricately carved in relief with branches and leaves forming a foot, the tips of the leaves reaching over the lower exterior. The stone is of grayish light beige tone, with several veins and areas of mottling.

‘Chickenbone’ jade refers to the whitish opaque colour of the stone, which can be caused either by burial disintegration or by heating translucent nephrite.[1] Examples of brush washers carved from this material are rare. The present brush washer can be associated with two auspicious meanings. The Five Bats, wufu, motif stands for ‘May you have the Five Blessings’, namely longevity, health, wealth, virtue, and a peaceful death. Secondly, bats in combination with peaches represents ‘May you possess both blessings and longevity’, fushou shuangquan.[2]

  1. Keverne, R. ed., Jade, London, 1991, p. 354
  2. Bartholomew, T. T., Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, San Francisco, 2006, pp. 23, 26