Brush holder with lotus decoration

Period: Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)

Date: mid-19th century

Culture: Korea

Medium: Porcelain with openwork design

Dimensions: H. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm); Diam. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Hewitt Fund, 1911

Accession Number: 11.142.1


Typical of porcelain brush holders of the late Chosōn period, this piece has a cylindrical shape with a wide base and mouth. Its thick walls accentuate the weighty appearance. The openwork design of large lotus flowers projects in relief and is fittingly bold. The glaze has a bluish tint. Porcelain brush holders with openwork designs were produced by punwōn, the Chosōn court kilns, and were especially popular in the nineteenth century.

Along with porcelain water droppers, lacquer stationery boxes, paper, ink stones, and brushes, porcelain brush holders formed an essential part of a Confucian scholar's writing accoutrements. They were placed and used in the scholar's studio, or sarangbang. This room functioned as both study and social space where the master of the house received his (male) guests. The writing instruments and wood furniture in the sarangbang, therefore, were selected not only to serve practical purposes but also to display the owner's discriminating taste.