Kangxi period (1662-1722)
Height: each 5 inches (12.7 cm)
The Chinese Porcelain Company, Chinese Works of Art and Snuff Bottles, 1994, number 81, page 76.
Of cylindrical form, the walls composed of the naturalistic bamboo stalks, the trunk of a knotted pine and the twisted trunk of a prunus tree, bound by two bands of applied bamboo leaves woven through the stalks and trunks. The prunus and pine branches bearing beautifully detailed blossoms that cling to the side of the brushpot and drape over the rim into the interior. The exterior and interior covered in a rich turquoise glaze that pools to a deep blue in the crevices, the base unglazed.
These brushpots are remarkable for the compelling manner in which they entwine the “Three Friends of Winter.” Symbols of longevity, bamboo, pine and prunus branches were often grouped together in Chinese imagery and were known as the “three friends” because of their perseverance through the long winter months. The bamboo stalks, serving as the sturdy support of the pot, are cleverly bound together by pointed bamboo leaves and only when one looks carefully at the pot are the larger tree trunks, nestled between the stalks, revealed. The pine needles are carefully incised with detail and their round, flat forms are precisely applied to seem as if they might drop off at any moment. The finely molded prunus blossoms grow abundantly around and over the edge of the piece.
During the Kangxi period, the simple decoration of the richly applied, monochrome turquoise glaze was often used on naturalistic forms. Examples similar to these particular brushpots also exist in speckled turquoise as well as in the famille verte palette.