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Chinese Brush Washers

Chinese brush washers were created simultaneously alongside the emergence of calligraphic and ink painting practices in early China. Brush washers are essential tools for painters and calligraphers, used to remove excess ink from a paintbrush while painting or after the painting is completed.

The Chinese certainly did not miss the opportunity to make this tool into a beautiful art object. A common shape for brush washers, particularly those made of jade, is a lotus leaf or blossom. The lotus is symbolically relevant in that the lotus emerges from mud and muck in a magnificent untarnished bloom. Similarly, a brush would ideally emerge from the brush washer pure as well.

Other brush washers are formed into various blossom shapes, circular round silhouettes, or taller cylindrical forms. Sometimes, the brush washers are decorated with a scene from life, a peaceful scene from nature, or an empowering design of a beast such as a dragon or lion.


Quick Facts

  • Nature motifs on brush washers are meant as symbolic representations to spark reflection and inspiration to a painter and calligrapher
  • These works can sometimes be accompanied by a heavy wooden stand, also carved intricately with motifs such as lotuses, birds, dragons, or flowers. A stand aesthetically elevates the brush washer, giving the work a lighter look
  • Brush washers are typically created from porcelain or jade, though they can also be made of cloisonné brass, glass, amber, or enameled ceramics

Recommended Items at Auction

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A CHINESE JADE CARVED BRUSH WASHER
Oct 31, 8:00 PM EDT
A CHINESE JADE CARVED BRUSH WASHER
by NC Auctioneer Inc.
Est: $7,000- $10,000
$1,5001 Bid
Chinese Carved Rutilated Quartz Brush Washer
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Carved Rutilated Quartz Brush Washer
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $500- $5,000
$2001 Bid
CHINESE JUN-WARE STONEWARE WASHER H 4" DIA 10"
Nov 11, 11:00 AM EST
CHINESE JUN-WARE STONEWARE WASHER H 4" DIA 10"
by DuMouchelles
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
LONGQUAN CELADON BRUSH WASHER SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY
Nov 05, 10:00 AM GMT
LONGQUAN CELADON BRUSH WASHER SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £600- £800
£3001 Bid
A blow brush marked Lux Skin
Nov 06, 10:00 AM AEDT
A blow brush marked Lux Skin
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD30- AUD50
AUD151 Bid
Jade brush rest, in the shape of a fruit, Qing dynasty China Sizes: H=30mm L=75mm l=50mm W
Oct 31, 10:00 AM CET
Jade brush rest, in the shape of a fruit, Qing dynasty China Sizes: H=30mm L=75mm l=50mm W
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €400- €800
€4000 Bids
HETIAN JADE CARVED 'TAOTIE' BRUSH WASHER WITH HANDLES
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
HETIAN JADE CARVED 'TAOTIE' BRUSH WASHER WITH HANDLES
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,2000 Bids
Lapped Guan Type brush washer,
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Lapped Guan Type brush washer,
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
BRUSH WASHER
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
BRUSH WASHER
by Hardt Auctions GmbH
Est: €400- €600
€3000 Bids
FAMILLE ROSE 'LUOHAN AND DRAGON' WASHER
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
FAMILLE ROSE 'LUOHAN AND DRAGON' WASHER
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $800- $1,000
$5500 Bids
SILVER AUSPICIOUS BEAST PATTERN FLOWER MOUTH WASH
Oct 30, 3:00 PM PDT
SILVER AUSPICIOUS BEAST PATTERN FLOWER MOUTH WASH
by Mega International Auction Inc.
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,6000 Bids
15TH C. VIETNAMESE BRUSH WASHER BOWL WITH PARAKEET
Nov 12, 11:00 AM EST
15TH C. VIETNAMESE BRUSH WASHER BOWL WITH PARAKEET
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
WHITE JADE FOLIATED BRUSH WASHER QING DYNASTY, 18TH-19TH CENTURY
Nov 05, 10:00 AM GMT
WHITE JADE FOLIATED BRUSH WASHER QING DYNASTY, 18TH-19TH CENTURY
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £1,000- £1,500
£5000 Bids
GE-TYPE CRACKLE-GLAZED LOBED WASHER POSSIBLY YUAN TO MING DYNASTY
Nov 05, 10:00 AM GMT
GE-TYPE CRACKLE-GLAZED LOBED WASHER POSSIBLY YUAN TO MING DYNASTY
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £3,000- £5,000
£1,5000 Bids
WHITE-GLAZED TRIPOD BRUSH WASHER QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY
Nov 05, 10:00 AM GMT
WHITE-GLAZED TRIPOD BRUSH WASHER QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £400- £600
£2000 Bids
A Chinese pale celadon jade brush washer
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese pale celadon jade brush washer
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £250- £350
£2200 Bids
White jade and rust brush rinse, plant decoration and mouse warmer, Qing dynasty China Sizes: H
Oct 31, 10:00 AM CET
White jade and rust brush rinse, plant decoration and mouse warmer, Qing dynasty China Sizes: H
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €2,000- €4,000
€2,0000 Bids
Agate brush rinse with floral decoration, Qing dynasty China Sizes: L=110mm l=65mm Weight
Oct 31, 10:00 AM CET
Agate brush rinse with floral decoration, Qing dynasty China Sizes: L=110mm l=65mm Weight
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €250- €500
€2400 Bids
A Chinese celadon jade small bowl or brush washer
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese celadon jade small bowl or brush washer
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £800- £1,200
£8000 Bids
A rare Chinese 'peachbloom' brush washer
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A rare Chinese 'peachbloom' brush washer
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £2,000- £3,000
£1,5000 Bids
A hardwood brush washer
Nov 11, 10:30 AM GMT
A hardwood brush washer
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £100- £200
£1000 Bids
A Chinese blue and white 'Dragon' brush washer
Nov 11, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese blue and white 'Dragon' brush washer
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £400- £600
£3500 Bids
Famille Rose water dropper/bru
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Famille Rose water dropper/bru
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Brush Washers


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Jumbo Auction House

Jumbo Auction House

China Arts Auction

China Arts Auction