Scenes with landscapes or mountains with dwellings or other architectural structures set in nature are common subjects in the Chinese aesthetic, and such scenes are closely related to scholarly beliefs and the scholar’s way of life. The three main Chinese belief systems —Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism—each stressed the critical nature of man’s oneness with nature: Taoism asserts that harmony in life can only be achieved if the energy of each individual is in tune with the greater cosmos through encounters with nature (Albert); in his Analects, Confucius claims that “the wise take pleasure in rivers and lakes, the virtuous in mountains” and that nature is moral and capable of giving instruction; while Buddhists believe “one could find in nature, especially in mountains, the serenity and peace needed to attain a more enlightened frame of mind. Buddhist temples and retreats were built in mountains so that followers could be at one with nature.” (Pei, p. 107) Interesting rocks, gardens, and mountain landscapes were special objects for a scholar’s contemplation, and they were depicted not only on utilitarian objects such as paperweights and brush rests but were also appreciated as objects of beauty and meditation, especially if their form were similar to or resembled a sacred mountain or they were believed to contain special energy. Scholar-officials relied on spiritual teachings to seek the solace of the quiet, contemplative, and reclusive life removed from the distracting and frenetic life of an official and surrounded themselves with articles that re-enforced that spiritualism.

Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Hong Kong. The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006.
Fang Jing Pei,  Treasures of the Chinese Scholar, New York, Weatherhill, 1977.
Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Singapore, Tuttle publishing, 2008.

Showing all 2 results

  • Antique Blue and White Porcelain Scholar’s Brush Holder, China (1933A-DOK)

    H: 3.25”  Dia: 3.25” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This is unusual piece was likely on a scholar’s desk along with pots, brushes, water droppers, boxes, ink stones and other daily used objects used for a variety of tasks: a brush holder, a paper weight and more. A weighty high-fired object with a wide hole in the center, it has a raised top to hold paint dripping from a brush and is painted with cobalt blue petaled flowers under its clear glaze that covers all but the bottom. Its round body is a landscape of a Chinese village, mountains in the distance and seas or lakes with the calligraphic name of the scholar owner Shu Dai Ji (舒逮吉). The scene and calligraphy are well drawn pairs with thick cobalt blue decorative borders above and below. It is in very good condition with expected discolorations and stains consistent with its long use of paints and ink.

  • Antique Porcelain Spouted Jar with Lugs, China (1106WHE) $135

    H: 5”  W: 5.25”  D: 4.5” | FREE SHIPPING!

    Utilitarian ceramics like this were used in home kitchens and restaurants to hold oil, sauces, soy or other liquids. This spouted blue and white porcelain jar has four loops, also called lugs, so a natural fiber such as rattan could be threaded to either secure a top create a way to hang it to a peg. Sealing the top was very useful if the jars contained liquid and needed to be transported. The piece is decorated in a free and expressive manner with a charming impression of a country scene of a building in a landscape surrounded by tall trees. The cobalt is thick and dark in some areas of the foliage and applied with a thin, sparing and light brush elsewhere.

End of content

End of content