An inscribed blue and white brush pot

Kangxi period (1662-1722)

The cylindrical brush pot is painted with Kuixing standing with one leg on the head of a dragon emerging from large crested waves. A scarf is billowing around his shoulders. The god is holding a bushel measure in his left hand and a brush in his right hand pointing towards books suspended from a rope. The reverse is painted with prunus and rocks below clouds all beside a four-line poem. The base is left unglazed except for the small recessed centre.

13.5 cm high

The poem may be translated as follows:

“With a sweep of the brush the Nine Heavens are filled with clouds and mist,

The Great Bear holds ten thousand measures of pearls.

The hand holds the great treasure and gives peaceful times,

The feet tread on ten thousand miles of clouds.”

 

Provenance:

Purchased from Spink & Son, London, 1977

With Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York, until 1983

An American private collection

The star-god Kuixing is believed to be the assistant of Wenzhang, the God of Literature. He is usually portrayed standing on a dragon which has just transformed from being a carp. This is a symbol of literary success through passing the imperial exams. The bushel measure in the God’s hand symbolizes the Great Bear and container of ten-thousand pearls. The brush represents the Great Treasure.

A similar brushpot with the same poem from the Shunzhi period (1644-1661) is illustrated by Curtis, with two characters written in a different style. Shi (time, moment) is written in an ancient manner, while wan (ten thousand), is written in seal-script. The inscription on the current brushpot is characteristic of the Kangxi period. Details of the painting, such as the half circular waves instead of the round spiralling waves on the earlier pieces, and the unglazed base with small recessed glazed centre, suggest that this piece can be dated to circa 1700.


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