Dated: Summer, 1705; Signed and seals at lower left. The porcelain-handled brush called "Easing the Heat", dates from the time of Wan-li. So often [I] have thought longingly of the hand that supported P'eng-lai. Although the realm has been transformed into merely a dream, [I still] cherish my homeland now in ashes. Moved profoundly, unable to speak, I hesitate over every word I write. I-yu year , early summer, in thanks to my old friend, the honorable Master Chueh-kung [who gave me] my ancestor Emperor Shen-tsung's own brush. Looking at this gift, holding it and treasuring it, I cannot bear to loosen it from my hand. [So I] write this in extreme gratitude. Ching-hsiang Ta-ti-tzu, Chi
Calligraphy of a poem written in running script and including four artist's seals and the artist's signature
The poem is an expression of deep gratitude toward a Buddhist abbot who had presented him with a valuable old brush with a porcelain handle.
The text of Shitao’s calligraphy may be loosely rendered as:
This “Easing-heat” brush with a porcelain handle originated in the Wanli era (1573–1620).
It experienced many profound affinities when wielded by the [imperial] forearm.
[My] dream of nationhood has dissolved away, [yet I still] cherish the ashes of my hometown.
Profoundly moved and beyond speech, [I] hesitate and ponder over every word [I inscribe].
In the early summer of 1705, [I felt] grateful to the venerable Master Juegong, who bestowed upon me a brush belonging to my late ancestor Emperor Shenzong. Examining it over and over, I could not bear to let it leave my hands. So I executed this calligraphy [for the master] with utmost appreciation.
It is a porcelain carafe with blue underglazing, with design of stylized acronym of King Rama V of Thailand (1868-1910), his name and reign in medallions with bat motifs and ribbons, and flower and leaf scrolls.
Blue-and-white ceramics in Chinese style such as this were created in China (possibly Jingdezhen, the center of Chinese ceramic production) during the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) and used by members of the royal family. They were decorated in a variety of patterns and includes inscriptions along with motifs, and repetitive patterns of the highly stylized initials of Rama V. The bat motif is traditionally a popular design in China, because the pronunciation of the character for “bat” (fu) is identical to that for “blessing.”
Bencharong ware spittoon made in a private kiln in Jingdezhen, China, for Thai market. Probably ordered from Thai royalty, under the reign of Rama II (r. 1809-1824). It is the porcelain ware enameled with multiple colors, in the style called “five colors” (“bencharong” refers to five colors in Sanskrit). It has a large mouth and bulbous shape, with design of minor Buddhist deities Thepanom and Norasingh, and Chinese fire patterns.
Spittoons were used by chewers of betel nut chewing, a common custom in Thai and other Southeast Asian countries. The spittoon shape is considered Thai, since they were probably ordered by the Thai and were rarely made for use in China. This spittoon has the design of Thepanom and Norasingh, minor Buddhist deities popular in Thai since around late 17th and early 18th century. Thepanom, usually in praying posture, are celestial beings who live in one of the six lower heavens of Buddhist cosmology. Norasingh, a type of Thepanom associated with the Himaphan forest, a mythical woods located in the Himalayan mountains below the heavens of the gods. A Norasingh has a human head, torso, and arms ornamented in the same fashion as the Thepanom; the hindquarters of a lion embellished with a flame; a flame-tipped tail and the hoofs of a deer. The Norasingh may be a Thai adaptation of the Indian Narasingh, who has a man’s body and a lion’s head and is one of the reincarnations of the god Vishnu. Norasinghs are used only on royal wares and probably symbolize the king’s divinity. On Bencherong ware, Norasingh are shown with one hand laid across the other, possibly a prayer attitude, and with red halos.