This aubergine glazed brush rest alludes to a mountain range, each of the three peaks decorated with auspicious symbols in green and yellow. The front is incised with swirling waves and a yellow carp, the reverse depicts a beribboned cash coin between two frolicking lions.
These charming objects were not merely functional items, but also conversation pieces with symbolic meanings, typically emphasising scholarly virtues and expressing wishes for longevity. Often depicted in Chinese art, the shoe (xie), is a symbol for wealth, as it is similar in shape to an ingot.
Confucianism, widely practiced in China since ancient times, centred on social rules and moral values. It was thought that through scholarly pursuits and study, a good and virtuous character could be achieved. Gentlemen were expected to pass a series of provincial and imperial examinations, thereby allowing him to pursue a career in civil service – in the vast and bureaucratic governmental system. Education and accomplishment, were considered crucial for advancement in government career ultimately gaining influence and wealth. The Chinese scholar’s studio and the objects in it, were therefore an important reflection of erudition, contemplation, good governance and ultimately power.