KANGXI or YONGZHENG c.1700 – 1735
A Large Late Kangxi or Yongzheng Blue and White Porcelain Bitong (Brushpot). The Tall Sides are Decorated with Objects Found in a Scholar`s Studio, Books, a Weiqi Board and Counter Boxes, an Flowering Orchid (symbol of scholarship), there are Also Precious Objects. This Design is Sometimes Referred to as `The Hundred Antiques Pattern`.
- Very good, a tiny shallow glaze chip to the lower edge.
- Height : 16 cm (6 1/4 inches)
- Anthony Garrod Collection, label to base. Another label "K`ang Hsi 1662-1722". Weiqi / Go : Go known in Chinese as Weiqi and Go in Japan, is an ancient board game for two players that is noted for being rich in strategy despite its simple rules. The game is played by two players who alternately place black and white stones on the vacant intersections of a grid of 19×19 lines. The object of the game is to control (surround) a larger portion of the board than the opponent. Weiqi originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago, and although it is not known exactly when the game was invented, by the 3rd century BC it was already a popular pastime, as indicated by a reference to the game in the Analects of Confucius. Go reached the West through Japan, which is why it is commonly known by its Japanese name. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_%28game%29.
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Brushpots / Bitong :
Bitong, brushpots are not found in 17th or early 18th century European inventories unlike some other ceramic forms which fore fill a specific Chinese function. Blanc de chine `libation cups`, were for example, made for drinking wine in China but they were imported in large numbers to the West. There curious forms appealed to Western tastes and were used in European displays or converted with the addition of a gilt bronze handle to become a bonbon dishes. Brushpots on the other hand seem to have been made exclusively for the Chinese domestic market and perhaps also for Chinese scholars in South East Asia. Bitong are an essential part of literati`s desk equipment, what is often referred to as a scholars desk. Other scholarly items for the desk might include a brush-rest, inkstone (for grinding the dry ink) a water pot for the water to add to the inkstone, a brushwasher as well as a table screen. Like other scholar`s objects they were made in a diverse range of material from natural gnarled branches of trees, highly polished wood, jade, bamboo to name but a few. Brush-rests were used for keeping the brush from making stains on the scholar`s table in between use while the scholar was working, while brush pots were used for storing the brushes when they were not being used.
The natural habitat of Chinese orchids is secluded woodland, it is therefore connected with Confucian and Taoist ideals as well as that of the reclusive scholar. This is because the flower is rather small and they can sometimes only be found by their scent, thus the scholar was not self-seeking ; only his deeds and writings were to bring him notice. The orchid also symbolizes moral virtue.