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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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CHINESE 'SHE-YAN' INK STONE, HAND CARVED IN THE FORM OF A DRAGONFISH, WITH ROSEWOOD STAND/CASE
May 23, 9:00 AM AEST
CHINESE 'SHE-YAN' INK STONE, HAND CARVED IN THE FORM OF A DRAGONFISH, WITH ROSEWOOD STAND/CASE
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD355 Bids
A POTTERY INKSTONE CARVED STATUES OF ELEPHANT-HEADED.C348
May 28, 11:00 AM EDT
A POTTERY INKSTONE CARVED STATUES OF ELEPHANT-HEADED.C348
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$3751 Bid
LARGE DUAN INK STONE PRODUCED BY THE WELL KNOWN INKSTONE ARTISAN MUO YONGZHONG IN ZHAOQING
May 28, 11:00 AM EDT
LARGE DUAN INK STONE PRODUCED BY THE WELL KNOWN INKSTONE ARTISAN MUO YONGZHONG IN ZHAOQING
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $45,000- $65,000
$19,0001 Bid
LAOKENG DUAN INKSTONE
Jun 01, 3:00 PM PDT
LAOKENG DUAN INKSTONE
by Mega International Auction
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
QING DYNASTY LAOKENG DUAN INKSTONE
Jun 01, 3:00 PM PDT
QING DYNASTY LAOKENG DUAN INKSTONE
by Mega International Auction
Est: $3,500- $4,500
$2,8000 Bids
A SET OF OLD INK
Jun 01, 3:00 PM PDT
A SET OF OLD INK
by Mega International Auction
Est: $1,200- $1,700
$7500 Bids
A Chinese zitan cased duan ink stone
May 22, 10:30 AM BST
A Chinese zitan cased duan ink stone
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £800- £1,200
£6000 Bids
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'CHILDREN AT PLAY'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'CHILDREN AT PLAY'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $500- $1,200
$4000 Bids
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'POEM'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'POEM'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,000- $2,500
$7500 Bids
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'POEM'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE BRONZE INK CASE, 'POEM'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,200- $3,000
$9000 Bids
CHINESE GLASS INKSTONE TRAY, 'POEM'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE GLASS INKSTONE TRAY, 'POEM'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $500- $1,200
$4000 Bids
CHINESE BAMBOO INKSTONE, 'DRAGON AMONG CLOUDS'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE BAMBOO INKSTONE, 'DRAGON AMONG CLOUDS'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,000- $2,500
$7500 Bids
CHINESE AGARWOOD INKSTONE, 'BAT AND DRAGON'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE AGARWOOD INKSTONE, 'BAT AND DRAGON'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $2,000- $4,200
$1,3000 Bids
Handmade Tibetan Silver With Two Fish Inkstone Box
Jun 05, 9:00 PM EDT
Handmade Tibetan Silver With Two Fish Inkstone Box
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $120- $150
$900 Bids
Handmade Tibetan Silver Fortune Rare Inkstone Box
Jun 05, 9:00 PM EDT
Handmade Tibetan Silver Fortune Rare Inkstone Box
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $120- $150
$900 Bids
Handmade Chinese Miao Silver Lotus Flower Inkstone Box
Jun 05, 9:00 PM EDT
Handmade Chinese Miao Silver Lotus Flower Inkstone Box
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $120- $150
$900 Bids
端溪硯
May 26, 1:00 PM CST
端溪硯
by Treasure Art
Est: NT$0- NT$0
NT$1,0000 Bids
CHINA - "BLANC DE CHINE" (DEHUA PORCELAIN) PORCELAIN INKWELL DECORATED WITH A DRAGON.
May 25, 2:00 PM CEST
CHINA - "BLANC DE CHINE" (DEHUA PORCELAIN) PORCELAIN INKWELL DECORATED WITH A DRAGON.
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €150- €300
€1600 Bids
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A FINE ROSEWOOD INK BED
Jun 01, 10:00 AM EDT
A FINE ROSEWOOD INK BED
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $75
$250 Bids
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SANDALWOOD CARVEDD INKSTONE WITH LANDSCAPE AND PAVILION PATTERNS
Jun 01, 10:00 AM EDT
SANDALWOOD CARVEDD INKSTONE WITH LANDSCAPE AND PAVILION PATTERNS
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
A CARVED JADE INKBED
May 30, 9:00 AM EDT
A CARVED JADE INKBED
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $500- $15,000
$2000 Bids
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EBONY WOOD CARVED INKSTONE WITH SEA AND DRAGON PATTERNS
Jun 02, 10:00 AM EDT
EBONY WOOD CARVED INKSTONE WITH SEA AND DRAGON PATTERNS
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
CHINESE HETIAN WHITE JADE INK PALETTE, 'TAI SHI SHAO SHI'
May 27, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE HETIAN WHITE JADE INK PALETTE, 'TAI SHI SHAO SHI'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $4,000- $9,000
$2,5000 Bids
AN INKSTONE WITH SQUARE BOX
May 29, 9:00 AM EDT
AN INKSTONE WITH SQUARE BOX
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $500- $15,000
$2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Ink Stones


Jade Auction House

Jade Auction House

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC

William's Auctions, LLC

William's Auctions, LLC

Stallion Hill Gallery

Stallion Hill Gallery