Brush Rest Depicting Li T’ieh-kuai


Photo of Brush Rest Depicting Li T’ieh-kuai

Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Brush Rest Depicting Li T’ieh-kuai   (2010.03.0006A)
Communication T&E : Written Communication T&E : Writing Accessories
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location Asia, East, China
Period/Date Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), 18th or 19th century
Culture Chinese

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 10.6 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 5.5 cm
Dimension 3 (Height) 4.9 cm
Weight 55 g
Measuring Remarks None
Materials Varnish, Plant--Wood
Manufacturing Processes Carved, Lacquered
Munsell Color Information N/A

Research Remarks

Published Description N/A

"A finely carved Chinese boxwood brush rest for the scholar’s desk, in the form of a reclining Li Tieguai with fitted hardwood stand, 18th century/early 19th century, Qing Dynasty. The figure measures 4 inches long by 2 1/2 inches high, the stand measures 4 1/4 inches long by 1 inch high. This figure is compactly detailed as are his attributes, the gourd, the staff and the bat. He holds the bat in his right hand, the left hand rests on his knee, and the gourd and staff are finely carved on the underside. Li Tieguai (Li T’ieh-kuai) is one of the Daoist Eight immortals and perhaps the most popular. His original name was Li Xuan. He is depicted with a crutch and gourd full of magic medicines, and a bat for long life. His alternate name is Li of the iron crutch. His attribute is a gourd from which a bat escapes, and in which he can concoct elixir and magic potions for the sick. The bat (bianfu) is a symbol of happiness and joy. One legend has Laozi, the founder of Taoism, came down from heaven to cure Li Tieguai of an ulcer on the left leg, and to teach Li Tieguai the wisdom of the gods. One day LI sent his spirit to Laozi. When he returned, he found that a follower had burned his body, believing him to be dead. So Li entered the body of a deformed beggar who had died, gaining both immortality and a new identity. Another legend states that Li Tieguai was a hermit who went 40 years without food or sleep. He acquired immortality and his crutch from the Queen Mother of the West, who saw him limping and begging." - Bernie McManus, Appraiser, Woodbury House, Connecticut, 7/22/2010


Christie’s Hong Kong, sale #2625, December 3, 2008. Lot #2343. A Bamboo Carving of Shoulao, Qing Dynasty, 18th century.


Cameron, Nigel. The Chinese Scholar's Desk. Hong Kong: FormAsia Books, 2003.

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Fred A. Freund Collection
Reproduction No
Reproduction Information N/A

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