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Zhou Lijun

Work table used by Chinese literati painters and calligraphers. The most important items found on the scholar’s table are the wenfang si bao (four treasures of the scholar’s studio): the inkstone, inkstick, brush and paper (see China, People’s Republic of §XIV 4.). In addition to the four treasures, the artist needed a variety of other utilitarian objects, such as brushpots, water holders, mixing dishes for the ink, an absorbant material to back Chinese paper and weights to hold the paper in position. The use of ink, brush and paper probably began in the Han period (206 bcad 220). In the Song period (960–1279) gentlemen–scholars took great interest in the antiquity of their scholar’s tables. The revival of Confucianism at this time was accompanied by a renewed interest in ancient objects, such as bronzes. The kilns at Yixing, Jiangsu Province, specialized in the production of small, red stoneware vessels fashioned in plant and animal shapes for the scholar’s table, and ...