To enhance aesthetic enjoyment, the brush writing of famous calligraphers was often carved on favorite objects in the scholar's study. Here, the calligraphy of two literati, Zhou Tianqiu (1514–1595) and Dong Qichang (1555–1636), on the splats testifies to the popularity of that custom.
Inscription: The splat is inscribed with a facsimile of calligraphy by Zhou Tianqiu:
Transcription of text: Sitting quietly in leisure, one day seems like two; When you live for 70 years, Then, just like 140
Tianqiu Wuchen, Winter (1568)
"Zhou Gongxia (Hao: Zhou Tianqiu) was born Zhênde 9th year Jia Xu (1514). He lived to be 82 years old. Wu Jin (1568) was Ming, Longqing 3rd year. Zhou Gingxia was then 55 years old. I, Tuilou was born Qing. Jiaqing, 16th year (1811) Xinwei. To this year, yichou (1865) Fall 7th month, acquired this chair in a store in Suzhou. I, too am 55 years old. Strange coincidence. Tuilou."
"Yichou 1865 acquired Zitan chair with fine grain, superb color, just like lacquer, made by good craftsmen in the Ming time. Four years later in Jisi, fall of 1869, after constantly searching, again found two chairs in a market. Then in Gengwu winter of 1870 acquired from an old family one more. All of them had inscriptions by well-known Ming scholars. Most happy to see the last chair matched the other three without slightest difference. At this time the Ting Feng Shan Guan (Maple Hill Inn) was just completed. I am now 61 years old. Am setting down the dates to commemorate it. Tuilou Lao Ren" (from catalog card).
[ R. H. Ellsworth Ltd. , New York, 1976; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ming Furniture Room," 1998.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Re-Installation of The Ming Furniture Room," 2008.