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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Porcelain five-peaked mountain-shaped pen (brush) rest with underglaze blue decoration. Like BM Franks.147B this porcelain pen rest is also in the form of a mountain range with five peaks. The central peak is the highest, with two smaller peaks on either side. Integral to the pen rest is a rectangular ridged plinth which is pierced with two large holes on the base. The pen rest is decorated in underglaze blue with a roundel framing an Arabic inscription in cursive script on either side on a dense spiralling scroll ground. The peaks are emphasized with blue lines and the stand with a typical Zhengde design suggesting 'ruyi' cloud feet. On the base is a six-character Zhengde reign mark in a double square.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1506-1521
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 13.8 centimetres
    • Length: 20.5 centimetres
    • Width: 4.7 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        front and back
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        al-qalam aqbalu min kul shay'in
      • Inscription Translation

        the pen is above all else (or 'the pen is superior to all')
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Da Ming Zhengde Nian Zhi
      • Inscription Translation

        Made in the Zhengde reign of the Ming dynasty
      • Inscription Comment

        Six-character Zhengde reign mark in a double square.
  • Curator's comments

    Harrison-Hall 2001:
    Another brush rest of this form and background decoration but with slight differences to the inscription is in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London.
    Mountain-shaped desk furniture was popular among the literate, providing a world in microcosm for contemplation. Five mountains are grouped together, representing all five directions: Taishan in Shandong in the east, Hengshan in Hunan in the south, Songshan in Henan in the centre, Huashan in Shanxi in the west and Hengshan in Shanxi in the north. Brush-pens rested in between the mountain peaks.


  • Bibliography

    • Harrison-Hall 2001 8:4 bibliographic details
    • Ayers 1964 p.112; D249; pl. LXXIV bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2009 24 Jan-19 Apr, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2009 2 May-19 Jul, Coventry, The Herbert, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2009 1 Aug-1 Dec, Basingstoke, The Willis Museum, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2010 29 Jan-9 May, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear Museums, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2010 22 May-15 Aug, York, Yorkshire Museums Trust, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2010-2011 25 Sep-26 Jun, Manchester Museum, 'China: Journey to the East'
    2011 – 2012 Dec – Apr, Sheffield Museums, ‘China: Journey to the East’

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Blue-and-white brushrest


COMPASS Title: Blue-and-white brushrest

Image description



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Object reference number: RRC15222

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