Brush Rest in Mountain Peak Shape

  • China
  • China, Ming to Qing periods
  • 17c
  • Gilt bronze
  • H-6.3 D-12 W-3.4
Catalogue Entry

A brush rest was a necessary desk accessory and they are known in all manner of designs and conceits. This work shows a range of mountains with a flowing stream at their base, complete with leaping carp. A single horned animal can be seen on the back of the mountain form. In Japan such carp motifs are known as an image of rough streams, but in Ming dynasty China this motif of fish leaping upstream symbolized striving to succeed, and hence desk accessories with this motif would have been a suitable gift for a person setting out on a new job, or diligently studying for school exams.

This type of mountain‐shaped brush rest can also frequently be found in ceramic forms. Here the interesting carp motif handling, deep mountains and seemingly three‐dimensional horned animal all make this a powerful, weighty heirloom.