Intricately rendered in the zhuhuang or bamboo veneer technique and deftly decorated with idyllic scenes of nature in shallow relief, the present brushpot is an exceptionally fine object destined for the scholar’s desk created with sophistication and utmost attention to detail.
The making of this brushpot involved the application of several thin panels, taken from the inner wall of the bamboo stem, over a wood core. These panels are then bound and held in place by the thick everted mouth and foot. The smoothly executed curving contours and proportionate symmetry of the vessel’s quatrefoil shape demonstrate the deft finish of the current brushpot.
Furthermore, meticulous attention has been paid to the decoration on this piece, seen in the well-planned composition of various panels depicting a lotus pond scene. The shallow-relief decoration, though seemingly monotonous at first sight, is cleverly incorporated with varying portrayals of water birds amongst. The carver’s dexterity and mastermind are also evidenced in the flowing lines and naturalistic rendering of the broad veined leaves and blooming lotus flowers in various orientations.
This brushpot bears testament to the mature development of bamboo carving at the height of the Qing dynasty. Objects of this type and executed to such sophistication are extremely rare, see a dated example of double lozenge shape depicting figural scenes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, exhibited in Objects for the Scholar’s Desk, Maria Kiang Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 2012, no. 7.