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Traditional Art - Inkstones

Ink stones


Inkstones, or slabs of stone used to grind ink for traditional Chinese brush writing, are an important expression of Chinese stone carving. Duan inkstones, first produced in Duanzhou, Guangdong Province, were made from stones found at the bottom of a mountain stream. They have a fine, solid texture and glossy sheen; ink prepared in them does not dry quickly.

Craftsmen make use of the characteristics of the original stone to produce carved inkstones, which are appreciated for their beauty as well as their practical value. The Duan inkstones of Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province and the inkstones of Shexian County in Anhui Province were both much valued by Tang Dynasty scholars and calligraphers for their hard and smooth texture and finely executed designs. Besides being functional as a tool for writing and painting, the inkstone serves as a fine desk ornament.

Revised June 2, 2011