Jade brush pot

China, Qing dynasty, 18th century AD

The dense, detailed carving on this substantial brush pot depicts two scenes from farming life, the winnowing of grain and the stacking of sheaves. These can be directly compared with images from the Gengzhi tu, a set conventionally used to illustrate rice growing and sericulture (silk farming). Many woodblock, stone engraved and painted images of these sequences of agricultural life were made in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The British Museum has a set dated to 1696.

Jade workshops followed conventional painting themes in some of their work, creating in effect pictures on jade. Both the subject matter and some techniques of the painter or engraver were acquired. The surface of the jade is treated rather like a sheet of paper, to be subdivided like a handscroll. Here the scenes are subdivided by large bands of rock that cross the field of the pot from top to bottom.

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Jade brush pot

© 2003 Private Collection

  • Illustration from the Gengzhi tu

    Illustration from the Gengzhi tu


More information


J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)


Diameter: 19.000 cm

Museum number

On loan from a private collection 29:18


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