Chinese Classical Zitan Furniture Collection

Zitan brush pot - high relief - circa 14-16th century

We were told this was no ordinary scholar's brush pot. For starters, the style of high relief carving seen on this brush pot has not been produced in China since the mid 14th century. Second, the portrayal of the characters on the brush pot is typical of the Yuan dynasty, dating back to 11th century, and has fallen out of favor since late 13th century. Third, the lip of the brush pot is uneven, indicating it was made entirely by hand. Since the 16th century, small mechanical wooden tools were introduced that allowed the carving of perfectly round and even edges. The fact that the lip is not entirely smooth is a sign of that the brush pot was hand carved an sanded, pre the invention of the mechanical tools. Last, in ancient China only famous craftsmen were allowed to carve their names onto their creations. Judging not only by this ancient cultural rule but also by the quality of the craftsmanship, the artist would have been well known in his time. There is never a dull scene as one turns the brush pot from one angle to another, with images likely from a story known to the ancient Chinese. In the depiction, three women play musical instruments, two women make dinner with pots, one woman dances, two women holding music instruments take a break from the practice, an older man sits by a table toped with fruit baskets and a tea pot, two rabbits play by an old tree, and a traditional Chinese garden landscape serves as a backdrop. The ox-hair grain provides a primary indication of the wood being xiao-ye-tan zitan. Xiao-ye-tan zitan, considered the most precious wood, has been extinct since the early 19th century. Both the design and workmanship are of the highest standard and the style is exceedingly rare. Circa 14-16th century. Lower Base Diameter: 6.61", upper diameter: 7", height: 5.9", weight: 5.5 pounds.

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