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Scholar's Implements

A Bamboo Inkrest

Qing Dynasty, 18th Century

Length: 7.3cm

The inkrest is fashioned from an uneven bamboo section with its edges curled after a rolled-up scroll. The seal carved in relief on the right side reads Shanshui you 山水友 “Friend to Mountains and Waters”. The centre inscription reads Jieda huanxi 皆大歡喜 “May All Be Filled with Immense Joy”, while the seal inscription in relief on the left side reads Shengwang you 聖王友 “Friend to Sage Kings”. The bamboo is patinated to a warm caramel colour.

The locus classicus of Jieda huanxi 皆大歡喜 “May All Be Filled with Immense Joy” is the Jingang nengduan bore boluomi jing 金剛般若波羅蜜經 (Prajñāpāramitā sūtra [The Diamond of Perfect Wisdom Sūtra]) (Taishō shishū daizōkyō 大正新修 大藏經 [Taishō Edition of the Buddhist Canon ed.]), T235.8.752b30:

佛說是經已,長老須菩提及諸比丘、比丘尼、優婆塞、優婆夷,一切世間天、人、阿 修羅,聞佛所說,皆大歡喜,信受奉行。

“When the Buddha had finished expounding this sūtra, The elder Subhuti, other bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, heavenly and human beings, asuras, and other beings of the world, having heard the Buddha, were all filled with immense joy; they accepted and followed the teaching faithfully.”

The “sage kings” in the expression Shengwang you 聖王友 “Friend to Sage Kings” is likely to be as much a Buddhist as a Confucian referent, i.e. Yao, Shun and the other sage kings of remote antiquity revered by the Ru-ist (Confucian) tradition, for these were also incorporated into the Chinese Buddhist concept of the Cakravartin (sage-monarch).

A Japanese Private Collection

清十八世紀 竹雕手卷式墨床