Zitan brush pot

Zitan brush pot

Qing dynasty, 18th century

Height: 5 3/8 inches, 13.7 cm
Diameter: 4 7/8 inches, 12.5 cm

A large zitan brush pot of cylindrical form, supported on three short feet. The plain sides gently slope out towards the rim.  Both the rim and the edge of the base are beaded with subtly rounded corners. The wood is well polished and has the purplish hue typical of zitan, with characteristic minute silvery streaks.


This well-proportioned brush pot is a fine example of a scholar’s object. Brush pots are receptacles for the many brushes used by Chinese scholars for writing and painting. The shapes and sizes of such brush pots adorning a scholar’s table are an essential part of the scholar’s studio. Zitan (‘purple sandalwood’) was the finest type of wood at the time, and is the most dense and slow growing of hardwoods used to create objects for the scholar’s desk.  Zitan brush pots of such large size occur rarely due to size limitations and the delicate nature of zitan. An 18th-century zitan brush pot of oval form, comparable in the undecorated plain body and the beaded edges, is in the Vok collection.[1]  A further comparable 18th-century brush pot made of jichimu, similar in shape, beaded edges and bracket feet, is illustrated in Wood from the Scholar’s Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles.[2]


1 Grindley, N. Pure Form: Classical Chinese Furniture- Vok Collection, Munich, 2004, no. 62
2 Piccus, R. P. ed. Wood from the Scholar’s Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles, Gulliver Books, Hong Kong, 1984, no. 17


清 十八世紀
高:13.7 公分 徑:12.5 公分
紫檀木質,為一段紫檀木幹截製而成,筒內深刨成谷,通體成深紫色,上下包緣。壁厚,手感沈 重。此筆筒形制端莊,望而發思古之幽情,當為文房佳器。