This is a pottery brush rest for the scholars desk made in the shape of five mountain peaks with flowers in low relief on the surface. A brush rest refers to the object used to hold the brush when one temporarily stops painting or writing, so that the wet brush will not smear other things. The piece is in a semi- circular form to that it will stand solidly when the brushes are place on it. The piece is glazed with a brilliant blue/purple color that is quite dynamic. The base is unglazed and has a hole for air to escape during the firing.
The piece measures 3 ¾” wide by 3” high at the top of the center peak and has a curve of 1 1/2”. It is in excellent condition with no cracks or chips – just some roughage on the base from use. We date it to late 19th to early 20th century, circa 1880s - 1920s.
The brush rest is in the form of the five sacred mountains. This form represents five actual mountains in China that symbolize all five directions: north, south, east, west and center. Their purpose was to ensure cosmic order and permanence, and ancient Taoist temples crowned each of their summits. They are sometimes referred to as Mi Fu’s rest. Mi Fu was a Chinese painter, poet, and calligrapher born in Taiyuan, Shanxi during the Song Dynasty. The pictures which still pass under the name of Mi Fu represent ranges of wooded hills or cone-shaped mountain peaks rising out of layers of woolly mist.