OBJECTS FOR THE SCHOLAR'S DESK, Hong Kong 2008
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Scholar's Implements

A ‘JIU RU’ DUAN INKSTONE

QING DYNASTY, INSCRIPTION DATED TO QIANLONG 16TH YEAR (1751)

LENGTH OF INKSTONE: 20CM
HEIGHT OF INKSTONE: 5.7CM

LENGTH OF BOX: 21CM
HEIGHT OF BOX: 6.9CM

The fine-grained duan stone is carved naturalistically in the form of a large cloud-shaped lingzhi fungus, its stem issuing eight further fungi hugging its side, adding up to an auspicious nine. The smaller lingzhis flanking the side of the inkstone reveal in places the rich, uneven brown skin of the duan stone. The fine original black lacquer box is conformingly shaped and is inlaid on the cover with the characters ‘jiu ru‘(九如), or nine wishes. The base of the inkstone is incised with a lengthy dated poem based on the Shijing 詩經 (Classic of Poetry), Xiaoya 小雅 (Lesser Elegentiae), the ode Tianbao 天保 (Number 166), which translates as follows:

天保定爾 May Heaven protect and establish you
以莫不興 So that in everything you always arise
如山如阜 Like a mountain, like an upland,
如岡如陵 Like a ridge, like a range,
如川之方至 Like a river just in flood,
以莫不增 Never failing to increase.
如月之恒 Like the constancy of the moon,
如日之升 Like the ascent of the sun,
如南山之壽 Like the longevity of the southern mountains
不騫不崩 May you never suffer loss, never fall down,
如松柏之茂 But flourish like the pine and cypress,
無不爾或承 Nothing ever failing to carry on for you.
天保二章章六句 Two stanzas from the ode ‘May Heaven Protect You,’ six lines in each stanza.
乾隆十六年歲次辛未 Dated the sixteenth year of Qianlong, the year xinwei,
九月九日 ninth month, ninth day [27 October 1751]
敬吉主人書於古月樓 Inscribed at the Ancient Moon Pavilion by the Master Who Venerates
敬壽 Good Fortune
霞賓》章 Xiabin “Sojourner Among Rosy Red Clouds” seal mark

The two seal script characters on the top of the box cover: ‘jiu ru‘ 九如 (‘Nine Likes’) allude to the nine appearances of the character ru in the two stanzas of the ode—five in the first and four in the second. Nine is the ultimate yang 陽 number, and thus most auspicious, and these nines echo the nines in the date of the inscription—ninth month, ninth day.

清乾隆十六年(1751) 端石刻靈芝紋九如硯