"A very rare pair of Zitan scroll weights for the scholar's desk, carved with birds and branches, signed Chi Tang, Kangxi period (1662-1722) Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty, 12 1/4" long.
Zitan wood is a purplish black wood and one of the most important woods in Chinese decorative arts. Zitan is the hardest and heaviest of all the hardwoods. Due to the scarcity of large zitan trees, objects made of zitan are considered exceptional treasures. There are two species which are native to China: Pterocarpus santalinus and Pterocarpus indicus.
From the Song Dynasty onwards, inkstone, ink, brush and paper have been known as wen-fang ssupao or Four Treasures of a Scholar's Study. The "four treasures" was a highly developed art and highly prized. In addition to the "four treasures", seals, brush pots (bitong), wrist rests, scroll pots, desk screens, and other scholar's objects have been appreciated for their function as well as beauty. The objects could also be merely decorative with aesthetic qualities." - Bernie McManus, Appraiser, Woodbury House, Connecticut, 10/23/1999