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Carved Bamboo Brush Washer in the Shape of a Lotus Leaf

Tags: Ming dynasty | National Palace Museum | vessel | wood


Chu San-hung, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Length: 15.1 cm, width: 9.3 cm, height: 7.2 cm, weight: 58 g 
The root of a bamboo has been carved here into the shape of a lotus leaf, with its curled edges closing together to form a pool in which a brush can be washed with water. The edges of the leaf are riddled with insect holes as a crab rests on one end. The outside of the lotus leaf reveals veins, among which is a small signature in running script that reads, "Made by San-sung". Chu San-sung, whose formal name was Chih-cheng, was the most outstanding member of the "Three Chu's of Chia-ting" in bamboo carving of the late Ming dynasty. This is why "it is said that Hsiao-sung was more famous than Sung-lin, and San-sung eclipsed Hsiao-sung", as stated in "Catalogue of Remaining Ink at the Tui-shan Studio". "Catalogue of Bamboo and Carvers" also mentions that San-sung excelled at carving "brush holders and book cases, decorated with such things as crabs and toads". In relief carving, he specialized in using bamboo roots to make sculptures. This work is the masterpiece of a genius in terms of utilizing natural materials and its workmanship.

Text: Chi Juo-hsin

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum