Subject:Re: Bamboo vase (probably Chinese)
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Nov 22, 2018
I believe you're right about it being Chinese, although it looks to be a bamboo brush pot or "bitong" (筆筒). You provide no dimensions or other items of known size for comparison in your photos, so it's tough to get a grip on how large this piece is. However, I would speculate that its cracking may be due to factors other than age, such as failure to keep the pot oiled in low-humidity, air-conditioned spaces.
In any event, the length and diameter ratio doesn't compare all that well to older bamboo brushpots I've handled, such as the one in the photo, about ten inches high and 5.5 inches maximum diameter, which was carved in Kunming around the late 19th-early 20th century and purchased in Rangoon, Burma in the 1980's. An appraiser with an American antique gallery in Hong Kong later examined its carved motif of scholars in a bamboo grove and validated the piece as an authentic antique example by an unknown disciple of the Kunming School of carvers.
You'll note the bottom of mine is missing. Termites helped with that ages before I bought it, but keep in mind for your pot that membranes separating bamboo joints are more fragile than the sides, so tend to wear over the years from use if heavy things such as brushes are kept in them. My pot also has cracks, which were there when I bought it more than 30 years ago, but I was able to stem their advance fairly well by using a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine, which dries to a strong surface finish in time.
Your pot was carved for decorative value, in my opinion, and can serve you well in that capacity if you take care to oil it and don't use it as a vase for anything needing water.