Title:Square boxArtist:Artist UnknownDate:Ch'ing dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:95.93.2a-c
The brush pot, or brush holder, was an essential fixture of the scholar's desk. The literati preference for natural materials like bamboo, clay, and stone extended to objects carved out of wood. The same dense hardwoods imported from Southeast Asia for domestic furniture were also used for boxes and brush pots. Huang hua-li was highly prized for its durability, fine grain, and luminous undertones. The rim of this vessel creates the impression of overlapping petals, whereas its side panels, carved in high relief, are decorated with sprays of lotus, plum, grass orchids, and magnolia. Well proportioned with a rich lustrous patina, the refined understatement of this brush pot and simple seal box typifies classic literati taste.