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Porcelain brush rest with underglaze cobalt blue decoration, Jingdezhen, Ming dynasty, Zhengde mark and period (1506-1521). Height: 11.4 cm, Length: 22.6 cm. Seligman bequest. Museum number: FE.195-1974. Victoria & Albert Museum © V&A Images

White porcelain moulded with five rising peaks, decorated with cobalt blue under the glaze and inscribed inside a diamond cartouche on both the back and the front with a Persian inscription, 'Pen rest'. The base is recessed and pierced at either end with a small hole.

Similar pieces exist in the Percival David Foundation (A642), Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (exhibited in Philadelphia, 'Ming Blue and White', 1949, no.99); the British Museum (Francks Collection 1470), inscribed 'pen rest'; Sotheby's, 29 March 1977, lot 256.

Bibliographic ReferencesJ.G. Ayers; The Seligman Collection etc. vol 2 1964, D248

Exhibition'The Seligman Collection of Oriental Art' (Arts Council of Great Britain 01/01/1966-31/12/1966) 
Venice Exhibition (Unknown 01/01/1954-31/12/1954) 
Chinese Blue and White Porcelain (Oriental Ceramic Society, London 01/01/1953-31/12/1954)

This porcelain pen or brush rest has been moulded into the shape of five rising mountain peaks. It is decorated with cobalt blue under the glaze and is inscribed inside a diamond cartouche on both the back and the front with a Persian inscription, which can be translated 'Pen rest'. The base is recessed and pierced at either end with a small hole.

Although this rest is of a traditional Chinese form as used by practitioners of calligraphy in China these rests were also exported to the Middle East as evidenced by the presence of similar pieces in collections there such as the Ardebil Shrine. Scholars in the Middle East used pens, not brushes for writing hence the inscription 'pen rest'. This rest was probably exported to the Middle East for the use of a scholar there or possibly made for a Chinese Muslim in China.