The present amethyst brush washer, skilfully carved in the round with lively chilong
and auspicious lingzhi
, is unusual for its wonderful craftsmanship and the use of the rare material. Only a limited number of amethyst carvings from the Qing dynasty is known, predominantly small in size, such as seals and snuff bottles, designed for the scholar’s desk or the gentleman’s pocket. One such example is a pale amethyst flower vessel carved with lingzhi
and clouds, preserved in the Shenyang Palace Museum. Another amethyst carving, in the form of a reclining immortal, is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. See also an amethyst oval seal carved with a recumbent chilong
and the hall name Leshantang (Delight in Goodness Hall), made during the Yongzheng period for the future Qianlong Emperor while he was still a prince, preserved in a box set of sixteen seals in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and published in Gugong jingdian: Ming qing di hou bao xi/Classics of the Forbidden City: Imperial Seals of the Ming & Qing Dynasties
, Beijing, 2008, cat. no. 182, p. 222.
It is recorded that in the first month of the 47th year of the Qianlong period (1782), among the presents gifted to Dnos-grub-rab-brtan (1721-1792), there was an amethyst flower vessel carved with magnolia; see Qinggong neiwufu zaobanchu dang'an zonghui [General collection of archival records from the Qing imperial household department workshop], Beijing, 2005, vol. 45, pp. 422-423.