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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 CARVED JADE BRUSH WASHER
Jan 02, 9:00 AM EST
A CHINESE CARVED JADE BRUSH WASHER
by Roswell Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4001 Bid
A CARVED JADE CRANE WASHER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CARVED JADE CRANE WASHER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$1,0001 Bid
Iron-Red Glaze Dragon Brush Washer
Dec 09, 1:00 PM PST
Iron-Red Glaze Dragon Brush Washer
by China Arts Auction
Est: $600- $800
$1001 Bid
Celadon Glaze Brush Washer
Dec 09, 1:00 PM PST
Celadon Glaze Brush Washer
by China Arts Auction
Est: $800- $1,000
$1001 Bid
A White Glazed Brush Washer
Dec 08, 6:00 PM CST
A White Glazed Brush Washer
by Mei Auctions
Est: $500- $600
$2500 Bids
BROWN GLAZED WASHER
Dec 03, 3:00 PM PST
BROWN GLAZED WASHER
by Mega International Auction
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
UNDERGLAZE RED COMPRESSED WASHER
Dec 03, 3:00 PM PST
UNDERGLAZE RED COMPRESSED WASHER
by Mega International Auction
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$6500 Bids
MONOCHROME GREEN GLAZED APPLE SHAPED WASHER, ZUN
Dec 03, 3:00 PM PST
MONOCHROME GREEN GLAZED APPLE SHAPED WASHER, ZUN
by Mega International Auction
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$6500 Bids
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A SHOUSHAN SOPASTONE BRUSH HOLDER AND WASHER
Dec 03, 2:00 PM PST
A SHOUSHAN SOPASTONE BRUSH HOLDER AND WASHER
by Linwoods Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$3000 Bids
A DUAN STONE ‘BAT AND LINGZHI’ WASHER, QING DYNASTY
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
A DUAN STONE ‘BAT AND LINGZHI’ WASHER, QING DYNASTY
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €1,000- €2,000
€1,0000 Bids
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A PALE CELADON JADE WASHER, QING DYNASTY
Dec 03, 2:00 PM PST
A PALE CELADON JADE WASHER, QING DYNASTY
by Linwoods Auction
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$8000 Bids
TWO COPPER-RED BRUSH WASHERS
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
TWO COPPER-RED BRUSH WASHERS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €600- €1,000
€6000 Bids
A LARGE FLAMBÉ-GLAZED PORCELAIN BRUSHWASHER
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A LARGE FLAMBÉ-GLAZED PORCELAIN BRUSHWASHER
by Nagel Auction
Est: €400- €600
€4000 Bids
A CREME-CRACKLE-GLAZED BRUSH WASHER
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A CREME-CRACKLE-GLAZED BRUSH WASHER
by Nagel Auction
Est: €500- €800
€5000 Bids
A Chinese yellow-glazed brush washer, Ming dynasty
Dec 05, 9:00 AM EST
A Chinese yellow-glazed brush washer, Ming dynasty
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $3,500- $4,500
$1,8000 Bids
A Chinese Jun-glazed washer, 18th century
Dec 05, 9:00 AM EST
A Chinese Jun-glazed washer, 18th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $3,000- $4,500
$1,5000 Bids
EIN PINSELWASCHER AUS ACHAT
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EIN PINSELWASCHER AUS ACHAT
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €150- €300
€1500 Bids
Mottled Jadeite Conch-Form Washer with Jade Stand
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Mottled Jadeite Conch-Form Washer with Jade Stand
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $2,500- $3,200
$2000 Bids
Rouge-Red Glaze Brush Washer with Beast-Handle
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Rouge-Red Glaze Brush Washer with Beast-Handle
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $1,200- $2,000
$2000 Bids
Jade Carved Peach-Shape Washer
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Jade Carved Peach-Shape Washer
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$3000 Bids
Famille Verte Dragon Lobed Washer
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Famille Verte Dragon Lobed Washer
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $1,700- $3,000
$2000 Bids
Green Enamel Double-Gourd-Shape Washer
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Green Enamel Double-Gourd-Shape Washer
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $900- $1,800
$1000 Bids
Antique Blue & White Ink Washer
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
Antique Blue & White Ink Washer
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $300- $500
$500 Bids
Chinese Spinach Jade Brush Washer, Qing Dynasty
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Chinese Spinach Jade Brush Washer, Qing Dynasty
by Ander's Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Brush Washers


Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

China Arts Auction

China Arts Auction

Wichita Auctioneers

Wichita Auctioneers