Brushpot is so obscure a word it isn't even recognized in dictionary.com. But to fans of Asian antiques, the word is actually quite common. A brushpot (or brush pot, two words) is a container that scholars and scribes in China (and Korea) in the 18th and 19th centuries used, to hold their calligraphy brushes. They were also sometimes used to store paper. The pots were typically carved from bamboo or jade, with ornate motifs symbolizing concepts such as longevity. The brushes would be rinsed and stored in the pot, with their handle down, so that the bundles of hair would keep their shape and point.
Antique brushpots are highly prized by collectors. At a Skinner Asian Arts Auction, an 18th century bamboo Chinese brush pot, just six inches tall, fetched $539,500. It was inscribed with detailed figures of immortals and animals set in mountainous landscapes. Would you like to own a brushpot? You can, if you're the winning bidder for the example shown here. It's an elaborately carved Chinese spinach jade brushpot, large at 14 ¾ inches tall and carrying the Qianlong seal mark. I. M. Chait is offering it in their June 5th Asian Art & Antiques Auction. It's estimated to sell for $30,000-$40,000.