Zitan brush pot
A small zitan brush post of cylindrical form, supported on three short bracket 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 diminutive brush pot is a very fine example, both for its elegant simplicity in form and for its exquisite craftsmanship; carved from a single piece of zitan, the finest material at the time. Zitan (‘purple sandalwood’) is the most dense and slow growing of hardwoods used to create objects for the scholar’s desk, and occurs rarely due to size limitations and its delicate nature. A slightly larger zitan brush pot, comparable in the undecorated plain body and dated to the 17th – 18th century, was included in the exhibition The Chinese Scholar’s Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period. Two further comparable 18th century brush pots are similar in shape, beaded edges and bracket feet: one made of huanghuali is in the Vok collection; the other made of chichihmu is illustrated in Wood from the Scholar’s Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles.
- Li, C. T. and Watt, James C. Y. eds. The Chinese Scholar’s Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period- An Exhibition from the Shanghai Museum, Thames and Hudson, New York, 1987, no. 69-N, p. 126
- Grindley, N. Pure Form: Classical Chinese Furniture- Vok Collection, Munich, 2004, no. 61
- Piccus, R. P. ed. Wood from the Scholar’s Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles, Gulliver Books, Hong Kong, 1984, no. 17, p. 47