A Hardwood-Mounted Bamboo Brush Pot, three-character inscription, presumably the artist, reading Wang Yuan Gu

Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), probably late 18th Century

6 3/4 inches high, hardwood foot and rim


The dark bamboo carved in deep relief with a continuous mountain scene with two scholar's playing weiqi, another watching the game, whilst a fourth looks out from the pavilion where they linger towards a figure arriving on horseback on a pathway from a rocky ravine, beyond this figure behind looming rockwork approaches a younger male with a dog on a leash followed by a scholar and his two assistants crossing over a stream on a simple planked bridge, with a delightfully carved thick willow branch hanging toward the stream from the rock-work above, further trees of wutong, prunus and pine and a rock-face bearing the inscription.

Whilst the rider on the horse arriving at the pavilion does not appear to be dressed as a soldier this scene may well be an episode in the life of the Jin Dynasty army commander Xie An, who was delivered the news of his army's victory at Feishui, whilst entertaing a guest at his Eastern Mountain retreat.

He received the message without a sign of emotion and continued the game. The story was a popular one amongst the Qing carvers.