The unusual flowers carved on the brush pot are a tall-stemmed form of marigold known as African marigold, which was a late 16th or 17th century import into China. It was admired for its orange and yellow flowers that were reminiscent of the Qing emperors' restricted color. Its Chinese name, wanshouju (chrysanthemum of ten thousand longevities), was often used as a pun to wish the emperor a long life. For another representation of this flower see the embroidered panel sold in these rooms, 19 March 2008, lot 142. Here the wanshouju blossoms replace the more usual chrysanthemum blossoms, which when depicted with katydids (guoguo) represent high rank or the wish for one to become an official of the first rank.
The carver of the brush pot, Tianzhang Shanren, is identified as Shi Tianzhang on the accompanying wood box. Shi is recorded as being a bamboo carver who lived from 1702-1774. The sliding cover of the box is also dated jisi year, tenth month, corresponding to 1929, and inscribed 'Master of the South Garden,' the hao of a previous owner of the brush pot, Nanyuan Zhuren, and the names of three other connoisseurs who had viewed the brush pot, Songchuang (Chu Deyi, 1871-1942), Wu Hufan (1894-1968) and Xijin (Gu Heyi, 1865-1930), all important painters in their own right.