a: fine grain, smooth textured stone; dark purplish-gray color; carved in outline of "wind" character (feng); wide flat surface sloping down to a well enclosed by a raised border at the narrower end, border continues on the long sides and tapers down to the curved lip of the open fan-shaped wider end; two slab supports carved out of the edges on the underside; remains of black ink in interior margins; b: silver box with open pedestal base pierced on all four sides with wide oval openings of ogee-bracket form above the flat flanged foot; supports a quadrilateral container with tapered sides and rounded ends fitted to the outside of the inkstone; shallow sides with an inner flange; c: plain domed cover

Inkstone and Fitted Silver Box, 10th-11th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Tuan stone and sheet silverexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  2003.200.2a-c

It is extremely rare for an ancient inkstone to survive with its fitted box, and this example, with its silver pedestal base and cover is a testament to the high status accorded writing implements by China's scholar class.

The stone used here for the grinding palette is the fine-grained, purplish-gray tuan stone from Guangdong province in south China. It is carved in the outline of the wind character (feng) with a flat, grinding surface sloping down to a water well enclosed by a raised border. This shape is also referred to as the "winnowing basket" shape and it was a popular inkstone throughout the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1280).
The lidded pedestal base is pierced on all four sides with wide oval openings of ogee-bracket form. It, and its domed cover, is fashioned entirely from sheet silver. Silver and gold utensils were popular amongst Tang and Laio aristocracy particularly for special items. A similarly shaped inkstone and lidded pedestal base are clearly illustrated in the famous mural paintings in Chang Wen-tsao's tomb, excavated between 1974 and 1993 in Hebei province and dated to 1093.

Details
Title
Inkstone and Fitted Silver Box
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2003.200.2a-c
Curator Approved

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a: fine grain, smooth textured stone; dark purplish-gray color; carved in outline of "wind" character (feng); wide flat surface sloping down to a well enclosed by a raised border at the narrower end, border continues on the long sides and tapers down to the curved lip of the open fan-shaped wider end; two slab supports carved out of the edges on the underside; remains of black ink in interior margins; b: silver box with open pedestal base pierced on all four sides with wide oval openings of ogee-bracket form above the flat flanged foot; supports a quadrilateral container with tapered sides and rounded ends fitted to the outside of the inkstone; shallow sides with an inner flange; c: plain domed cover