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Overall: 24.2 cm (9 1/2 in.); Handle: 21 cm (8 1/4 in.); Top: 16.8 cm (6 5/8 in.)
Anonymous Gift 1967.194.b
The inscription on this brush with a bamboo cap reads: Made during the Wanli Era of the Great Ming [dynasty].
In China, access to political power was granted to those who passed the civil service examinations, a system that offered official service only at a high level of education. Chinese literati-officials, whose daily routine involved administrative work in an office, enjoyed precious objects on their writing desks that offered distraction and demonstrated good taste. By the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, these utensils of the literati studio became also collectibles and were treasured as artworks.
A brush, like this one, was essential for both administrative tasks and for artistic creation. The bamboo brush handle and cap were carved in shallow relief with branches, leaves, birds, and flowers. The brush tip was made from fine white animal hairs.
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