This unusual and interesting item was made for a Chinese scholar’s desk. It comprises an actual dried and preserved lingzhi fungus (靈芝) that has been mounted into a wooden stand carved in a sympathetic, naturalistic manner. The fungus and the stand have been lacquered to present a unified whole.
The aesthetic quality of objects made from natural materials was of great appeal to the Chinese literati elite at the time, and in keeping with the Daoist (Taoist) aesthetic.
The lingzhi fungus itself has had strong beneficial medicinal associations in China for as long as 2,000 years. The term Lingzhi is a composite of two Chinese words ‘ling’ and ‘zhi’. These have various means but typical renderings are ‘filled with soul power’, ‘herb of spiritual potency’, ”mushroom of immortality’, or ‘divine fungus’.
Click here to see another example. Also, see Grinley (2009, ill. 71) for another related example.
The item is in fine condition. The black lacquer has either worn or was never present on part of the reverse of the fungus, but this would tend to be the more porous part of the fungus in any event.
Grindley, N., Ian and Susan Wilson Collection of Scholar’s Rocks, 2009.
Ribeiro, S. (ed.), Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1986.