Chinese Paint Brush Holders – Impeccable Craftsmanship

DSC_0019Everyone was so helpful helping me with the Chinese paint brush pot I posted on in the recent past. Thank you all!

Here are two more, but these have no wording characters. This is a matched pair by the same artisan but unnamed and unsigned as far as this amatuer knows. The tool work is different, perhaps more refined and accurate. The two pots are exact opposites even down to the number of knife cuts over eyebrows or folds in the garments of the man depicted. Looking at the landscape views too, I see the same number of knife cuts in the components making up the opposite pictures, though there are small variations that say freehand work. They do both have an antiquity to them and the artwork is stunningly meticulous.

I thought you might like to look at images of different aspects of the curves (hard to get consistent depth of field on curved surfaces). The matched pair is I think my favourite. The pair are 15mm taller than the single one which is 122mm (4 7/8″) by 65mm (2 5/8″) in diameter.

On the relieved undersides, which look like the inside of a large walnut shell, is an X mark knife-cut into each hollow.



Face to face you can detect small differences but the two book matches are surprisingly close…


…and so too the main scenes. I have counted many of the knife lines and leaves and so on and the numbers cross-count almost every time.  From top to bottom shows the fuller expanse of the carved scene.


The actual field area within the panel frame frieze is 109mm (4 1/4″) high by 76mm (3″) wide overall.DSC_0001 DSC_0018 DSC_0017


  1. Kevin Wilkinson on 1 January 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Carved bamboo – very sharp tools.

  2. Mach es selber! on 3 January 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Hello Paul, just my thoughts: After visiting a modern CNC shop today I am just wondering if this was made using a CNC engraving machine? The company I visited today was manufacturing idividual decorative end pieces from brass for use in staire rails, door knobs etc. and they did quite similar things of symetric designed pieces. Of course their artwork is modern, western style and looks different, but I you say that every cut was exactly identical….
    Maybe I am wrong, but it should be considered to be machine made.

    • Paul Sellers on 3 January 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Too old. These are at lest 150 years old.