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Collection

An image of Bamboo wrist-rest carved with texts in running script by

China

Title
Bamboo wrist-rest carved with texts in running script
Place of origin
China
Year
19th century-20th century
Media category
Woodwork
Materials used
bamboo
Dimensions

23.7 x 6.8 cm

Credit
Gift of John Yu, in memory of George Soutter 2012. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program.
Accession number
152.2012
Location
Not on display
Further information

The content of this carving is from the 'Yue Ling' book of ancient China, in which animals’ activities in each month are described. It also depicts how people conduct themselves, including their taboos, agricultural activities, and ritual ceremonies.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2012.

Bamboo Carving:
The earliest mention of a bamboo brush pot in literature appears during the Song dynasty (960-1127). Zhu Yizun of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) wrote in his 'Bi Tong Ming' ('On Brush Pot'): “Brushes that lie on the desk randomly are like people who don’t have proper deportment. When they are put in a brush pot, like guests finding a home, they become proper.”

Starting from the late Ming dynasty, the literati of the day stressed the cultivation of 'ya' (elegant, refined distinguished) style in their life. This style was expressed in their studies, carved bamboo ornaments, including brush pots ('bitong'), arm rests ('bige') and incense tubes ('xiangtong'). These were highly sought after because bamboo was considered as one of the four symbols for 'gentleman' whose integrity should be like the sections on bamboo trunks that go higher and higher.

The art of bamboo carving, probably started as early as the Tang dynasty, and became a unique art form. At its apogee in the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911), bamboo carving eclipsed all other similar forms of art and craft.