Asian Antiques Appraisals And Valuations

What Are Scholar’s Objects?

In China, the literati class of scholars and artists dates back to the Tang and Song dynasties, when the court implemented civil exams for the selection of bureaucratic officials that assessed candidates’ knowledge and ability in a wide range of subjects, including Confucian thought, law, agriculture, and the arts, especially calligraphy, painting, and music. During times of political strife or changes in power, certain officials were forced to retire from court life and seek refuge in the remote wilderness. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, they turned their attention to the arts of painting and music, their artistic style more aligned with the surrounding nature and less influenced by the more rigid court style.

The political stability of the Ming and Qing dynasties meant that fewer court officials were exiled to the wild, but the romantic ideal of the artistic scholar amidst nature nonetheless lived on. In emulation of their predecessors, the literati class built studios surrounded by gardens in the cities and suburbs of the major court centers. These studios were filled with beautiful painting and calligraphy tools, furniture, musical instruments, implements for preparing and consuming tea and wine, and antiques. Many surviving examples of these works of art from the Ming and Qing dynasties were carried out in precious materials, such as lacquer, cloisonné, gilt-bronze, and the precious woods zitan and huanghuali.

Objects such as the brush pot, wrist rest, inkstone, brushwasher, scroll pot, and scholar’s rocks were commonly found in the elegant studio of a Ming or Qing scholar. The brush pot, for example, holds the multitude of upturned brushes required for calligraphy and painting, the wrist rest was used to keep the wrist lifted off the work to prevent smudging or dirtying the work when writing or painting, the inkstone, out of the ‘four treasures’ of writing brush, paper, ink and inkstone, was held in a position of greatest importance as it ensures the even grinding of the inkcake, resulting in finer ink, which allowed the scholar to produce brush strokes that would be both technically and aesthetically pleasing. Objects like these were functional, but also served as beautiful works of art through exquisite design and the use of precious materials.


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.