A Quick Guide To Chinese Scholar’s Objects

A massive rare pair of uncut dragon seals.
A massive rare pair of uncut dragon seals.

The term scholars objects, refers to artistic items traditionally used by a Chinese scholar in his studio. The studio would be in a small building away from his home and would house useful objects, comprising of tables and chairs, table screen, ink stones, brush pots, wrist rest, books, seals, paper tray, scholars rock, various brushes, water-droppers, scroll weights as well as musical instruments. Objects that were not only useful, but things that could stimulate creativity.

The history of the scholar dates back to the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) when the court held civil exams for the selection of officials. These tests assessed the knowledge and ability of the candidate on a wide range of subjects, such as law, agriculture, calligraphy, painting, the arts and music. This in turn created a class of intellectual and artistically trained scholars.

Who I no doubt would have loved to sit and muse with a V.I.P Jiu 8 coffee tisane in their hands. So I have created a few to be enjoyed as we meander through the past.

Brush Pot

Brush pots were made in many different mediums from bamboo to porcelain. The purpose was to hold the rinsed brushes, with their handles down so the bundles of hair would retain their shape and keep their points. The Chinese brush is thought to have been invented in the third century B.C.

Coffee Tisane 1

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 tablespoon of condensed milk
4 cardamoms
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee and milk into mug and stir until dissolved. Put water and crushed cardamom into small pan, simmer for five minutes, strain into a mug, stir and enjoy.


Brush Washer

Brush washers were used to remove excess ink from the brushes and are a essential tool in the art of calligraphy. They were made from materials such as jade, porcelain, exotic woods and they were very much works of art in their own right.

Coffee Tisane 2

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee
2 tablespoons of evaporated milk
A ½ inch piece of ginger
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee honey and milk into mug and stir until dissolved. Put water and sliced ginger into a small pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a mug, stir and enjoy.


Table screen

The table screen would be placed on the painting table, which was in front of a window to catch the light The screen would protect the desk from drafts and shield the wet ink from the sun. Drawings on silk predated paper.

Coffee Tisane 3

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 heaped teaspoon of instant coffee
A 1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 – 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Single cream
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee and sugar into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put cinnamon and water into a small pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a mug, pour in cream to your liking, stir and enjoy.


Scroll Weights

The scroll weight was used to hold down the scroll while the scholar either contemplated its contents or was busy writing on to it. The scroll weights were made in all kinds of shapes and from all kinds of materials. Paper was believed to have been invented by the Chinese at the same time as the brush.

Coffee Tisane 4

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of fennel seed
1-2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee and sugar into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put water and crushed fennel seed into a small pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a mug, stir and enjoy.


Ink stone

The ink stone can be looked upon as an artists palette, but for ink instead of paint. A high quality ink stone is a must for ensuring the even grinding of the ink stick. The ink stick is rubbed onto the stone and mixed with water to make the ink. Along with a carved design the ink stone also has a sunken well to hold the ink.

Coffee Tisane 5

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of poppy seed
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee and honey into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put crushed poppy seed and water into a small pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a mug, stir and enjoy.


Wrist Rest

The Chinese calligraphy writer wrote vertically from right to left, so the wrist rest was used to keep the wrist raised from the work and steady the hand while painting or writing. Although not a lot is known about their origins, most were made from segments of cut bamboo and had intricate designs carved into the backs.

Coffee Tisane 6

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 heaped teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of dried dandelion
1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Fresh milk
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee, and sugar into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put dandelion and water into a small pan and simmer for five minutes then strain into a mug. Put in desired amount of milk, stir and enjoy.


Water Dropper

A water dropper is a small container used in Chinese calligraphy to hold a small amount of water so as to make ink. A few drops of water are dropped onto the surface of an ink stone. Then by grinding the ink stick into the water, particles come off the stick and mix with the water making ink. A water dropper has two small holes for the water and air and is designed so only a few drops can fall at a time.

Coffee Tisane 7

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of dried nettle
1 teaspoon of honey
Double cream
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee, and honey into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put nettle and water into a small pan and simmer for five minutes and strain into a mug and stir, float cream on top and enjoy.


Scholar’s Rock

A scholar’s rock is a natural or man shaped small rock which are appreciated by Chinese scholar’s, they can be any shape or colour and these individual stones have been appreciated by artistic Chinese scholars since the Song dynasty (960-1270) They evolved from their larger counterparts, the garden rock.

Coffee Tisane 8

25ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of condensed milk
2 tablespoons of evaporated milk
6 dried rose-hips
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml of water

Put V.I.P Jiu 8, coffee, cocoa, milks and honey into a mug and stir until dissolved. Put rose-hips and water into a small pan and simmer for five minutes, then strain into a mug and stir to enjoy.

Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.