Length: 8 3/4 inches, 22 cm

Bamboo wrist rest

China, Qing dynasty, early 19th century

A bamboo wrist rest of typically curved form, delicately engraved with Li Bai, depicted holding his cup in an outstretched left hand as if bringing out a toast to the moon. To the upper left there is a signature Xue hai followed a seal Zhao. The reverse is carefully finished with each edge cut with a concave moulding and with a foot to each corner. The surface bears a rich patina and has a warm amber tone.

The natural shape of the bamboo stem offers itself well as suitable wrist rest, and, for this reason, bamboo was among the preferred materials for this type of scholar’s object.[1] This wrist rest depicts Li Bai, a famous poet who lived during the Tang dynasty, an ideal subject for the calligrapher’s desk. The name of the carver, Zhao Xuehai, seems to have been associated especially to landscape and figural engravings.[2]

Nicholas Grindley, London, 2005
Formerly in the collection of Ian and Susan Wilson, San Francisco

  1. Piccus R. P. et al., Wood from the Scholars Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholars’ Articles, Hong Kong 1984, p. 19.
  2. Tam, L. C. S., Chinese Bamboo Carving, part. II, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong 1982, no. 22, p. 44