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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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Chinese Longquan Ge Yao Glazed Brush Washer
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Longquan Ge Yao Glazed Brush Washer
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$3001 Bid
A blue and white cloud and dragon patterned porcelain brush washer,Qing Dynasty,China
Mar 04, 8:00 AM EST
A blue and white cloud and dragon patterned porcelain brush washer,Qing Dynasty,China
by Hotspot Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$2001 Bid
A CHINESE CARVED WHITE JADE CHILONG WASHER
Mar 03, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE CARVED WHITE JADE CHILONG WASHER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $4,000- $5,000
$8001 Bid
QING DYNASTY WHITE JADE LOTUS BRUSH WASHER
Mar 09, 3:00 PM PST
QING DYNASTY WHITE JADE LOTUS BRUSH WASHER
by Mega International Auction
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,2000 Bids
QING DYNASTY TEA LEAVES BAOXIANGHUA BRUSH WASHER
Mar 09, 3:00 PM PST
QING DYNASTY TEA LEAVES BAOXIANGHUA BRUSH WASHER
by Mega International Auction
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$1,7000 Bids
OLD CRYSTAL CHILONG BRUSH WASHER
Mar 09, 3:00 PM PST
OLD CRYSTAL CHILONG BRUSH WASHER
by Mega International Auction
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,4000 Bids
Song Jun kiln folding edge washing
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Song Jun kiln folding edge washing
by Yakon Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2000 Bids
Qing Dynasty imitation ancient copper glaze three legged washing
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Qing Dynasty imitation ancient copper glaze three legged washing
by Yakon Auctions
Est: $1,500- $3,000
$8000 Bids
Qing porcelain imitation Ganoderma brush wash
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Qing porcelain imitation Ganoderma brush wash
by Yakon Auctions
Est: $1,000- $3,000
$6000 Bids
Minglongquan Kiln Flower Mouth Washing
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Minglongquan Kiln Flower Mouth Washing
by Yakon Auctions
Est: $1,500- $3,000
$7000 Bids
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2pc Antique Chinese Jadeite Scholar Brush Washer with Base
Mar 13, 2:00 PM EDT
2pc Antique Chinese Jadeite Scholar Brush Washer with Base
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $600- $1,200
$600 Bids
Junyao Pinselwascher in Art der Yuan-Zeit, China, wohl nicht aus der Periode
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
Junyao Pinselwascher in Art der Yuan-Zeit, China, wohl nicht aus der Periode
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €150- €200
€500 Bids
A Chinese clair-de-lune brush washer, Republic period
Mar 16, 9:00 AM EDT
A Chinese clair-de-lune brush washer, Republic period
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$6000 Bids
CHINESE ZISHA BEAST-HANDLED BRUSH WASHER
Mar 04, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE ZISHA BEAST-HANDLED BRUSH WASHER
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,200- $3,000
$8000 Bids
CHINESE GOLD-SPLASHED BLUE GLASS BRUSH WASHER, 'CHI-DRAGON'
Mar 04, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE GOLD-SPLASHED BLUE GLASS BRUSH WASHER, 'CHI-DRAGON'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $600- $1,500
$5000 Bids
CHINESE ANTIQUE JADE CHI-DRAGON-HANDLED WASHER
Mar 06, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE ANTIQUE JADE CHI-DRAGON-HANDLED WASHER
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $600- $1,500
$5000 Bids
A Chinese carved white jade lotus leaf-form brush washer, 18th century
Mar 16, 9:00 AM EDT
A Chinese carved white jade lotus leaf-form brush washer, 18th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $3,000- $4,500
$1,5000 Bids
A Chinese carved white jade lotus-form brush washer, 19th century
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
A Chinese carved white jade lotus-form brush washer, 19th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $200
$1000 Bids
PAIR FAMILLE ROSE ENGRAVED PORCELAIN BRUSH WASHERS
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
PAIR FAMILLE ROSE ENGRAVED PORCELAIN BRUSH WASHERS
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
MING XUANDE BLUE & WHITE BRUSH WASHER
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
MING XUANDE BLUE & WHITE BRUSH WASHER
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
FAMILLE ROSE BAMBOO SHAPED BRUSH WASHER ON STAND
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
FAMILLE ROSE BAMBOO SHAPED BRUSH WASHER ON STAND
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
CHINESE HETIAN JADE BRUSH WASHER
Mar 06, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE HETIAN JADE BRUSH WASHER
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,200- $3,000
$8000 Bids
A Chinese blue and white 'landscape' brush washer, by Nie Xingsheng (Chinese, Republic period)
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
A Chinese blue and white 'landscape' brush washer, by Nie Xingsheng (Chinese, Republic period)
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $200
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Brush Washers


Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

Mega International Auction

Mega International Auction