The Chinese made brushpots from a variety of materials including hardwoods, bamboo, and jade. Bamboo brushpots have a particularly long history and those with carved décor became popular with the literati during the sixteenth century. This finely detailed container shows scholars and attendants in a mountain retreat beneath overhanging rocks and another group of four scholars in a bamboo grove listening to lute music. Narrative scenes like this relate closely to printed designs in books from the late Ming and early Ch'ing dynasties. The inscription, carved by Tung Wen in kai-shu
, or regular script, on the large rock, reads:
The lotus estate in cool summer
In the Kuei-wei year (1793) in the summer of the sixth month
In the spirit of Chang Chiao's brush.
Chang Chiao, better known as Wang Meng (1308-85), was one of the most highly revered calligraphers and painters of the fourteenth century.