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Chinese Ink Stones

In traditional Chinese culture, the art of writing is essential to education and scholarly success. Exemplary of this reverence toward calligraphy is the reference to the creation of brushes, ink, ink stones, and paper as the “four treasures of the study” in literature dating back to 420 A.D. Ink stones in particular were considered the most important and even the very soul of a scholar.

Ink stones, originally created in the Han dynasty, emerged with the creation of ink sticks. Chinese paintings and calligraphy, either on paper or silk, are generally produced with a water-based ink created from grinding the ink with a stone and water. Ink stones are usually made of fine-grained whetstone like slate, but can also be created out of ceramic and other coarse materials. During the Tang and Song dynasties, the ink stone became more than just a utilitarian object – it was an important work of art.

Ink stones are decorated with images of scholars or references to famous literary works in order to inspire intellectuals. They are revered for the manner in which the stone collaborates with the ink-stick and water to create the perfect ink texture.


Quick Facts

  • In order to produce a consistent ink, the ink stone must consist of fine grains to grind the ink stick into finer particles. The best ink stones are made out of older geological formations due to the finer crystals
  • The perfect ink stone is also consistent in the direction of the grain and not highly absorbent. A lower quality ink stone, when wet, will dry out quickly and in patches
  • Duan and She ink stones are the most famous for their high quality and fine grain. Both were mined historically during the Tang and Song dynasties, and were so valuable that some miners believed to have been forced to work naked so that they could not steal any of the stone

Recommended Items at Auction

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Ardeshir Mohassess (1938-2008) Ink On Paper
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Ardeshir Mohassess (1938-2008) Ink On Paper
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Est: $0- $0
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ANDRE FRANCOIS FEMALE PORTRAIT WATERCOLOR & INK
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CHINESE HAN DYNASTY (206 BC-220 AD) TORTOISE FORM POTTERY INKSTONE
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Nov 12, 11:00 AM EST
CHINESE QING CELADON GLAZED EIGHT-FOOTED INK STONE
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Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
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Vintage Chinese Zitan Wood Clouds Dragon Design Inkstone
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
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Heavy Chinese Qing Hardstone Relief Ink Stone
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A Chinese Blue and White Porcelain Ink-slab and Cover
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A Chinese Blue and White Porcelain Ink-slab and Cover
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A CHINESE STONE-GRAIN GLAZE FAMILLE ROSE INK-STICK REST
Oct 30, 8:00 PM EDT
A CHINESE STONE-GRAIN GLAZE FAMILLE ROSE INK-STICK REST
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A WOOD NETSUKE OF AN INK STONE WITH A DRAGON HEAD
Nov 11, 9:30 AM CET
A WOOD NETSUKE OF AN INK STONE WITH A DRAGON HEAD
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RARE CHINESE HAN DYNASTY TWO-HEADED TORTOISE FORM COVERED INK STONE
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CHINESE DUAN INKSTONE
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CHINESE DUAN INKSTONE
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CHINESE INK AND COLOR LANDSCAPE SCROLL
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Sellers Who Sell Chinese Ink Stones


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

China Arts Auction

China Arts Auction

Jumbo Auction House

Jumbo Auction House