Chinese Classical Zitan Furniture Collection

Zitan smooth brush pot - late 18th century, xiao-ye-tan zitan

Carved from a single block of xiao-yie-tan zitan, this cylindrical brushpot dates from early to mid 18th century. Though simple in form, this brushpot is made from a single piece of very fine quality xiao-yie-tan zitan wood. The surface is beautifully waxed. The surface of the wood consists of ox-hair like fine grains that are exclusively found in xiao-yie-tan zitan objects. Zitan, sometimes called red or purple sandalwood, has long been considered the most precious wood in the world. Zitan is also one of the most exclusive hardwoods because historically only the Chinese imperial household was allowed to use it. Today, zitan researchers often divide this very precious tropical hardwood into three main subspecies. Xiao-yie-tan is the most rare form of the three, and is the favorite among zitan collectors. Grown only in India, xiao-yie-tan zitan trees have been extinct since the early 19th century, making virtually every piece made of xiao-yie-tan an antique. Xiao-yie-tan timber is known for having the smallest diameter of all types of zitan and can typically only be made into small objects, versus others, such as da-yie-tan, seen sometimes in larger furniture pieces. Nine out of ten zitan logs are hollow, making zitan objects carved from a complete piece of timber such as this one uncommon. A rare piece of Chinese history, the pot measures 3.5 inches in diameter and 4.25 inches tall and weighs approximately 1.5 pounds

 
 
 
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