Brush holder with “Ode to the Pavilion of the Inebriated Old Man”

Artist: Zhang Xihuang (active early 17th century)

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: early 17th century

Culture: China

Medium: Bamboo

Dimensions: H. 5 1/4 in. (13.4 cm)

Classification: Bamboo

Credit Line: Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Wiley Gift, Seymour Fund, Bequest of Dorothy Graham Bennett and Erich O. Grunebaum Bequest, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.208


A tour de force of carving skill, the design on this brush holder is cut from the lighter skin of the bamboo so that it stands in relief against the darker, fibrous stalk. The subject is a gathering hosted by Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) in 1045. Ouyang later composed an ode to commemorate the event, and to poke fun at himself for being both the eldest and the most easily intoxicated of the guests.