QING DYNASTY, 18TH CENTURY
The duan stone is pale greyish green in tone and formed into a naturalistic rock slab with an uneven surface surrounding an inkwell. The composition is accented by a stylized contour of a scholar’s rock which provides a smooth backdrop for the inscription. Leafy foliage and a single lingzhi fungus peek out from beneath the inscribed platform.
The inkstone face is inscribed with a couplet by a painter-poet named Qian Weicheng 錢維城 (1720-1772), active during the Qianlong reign, which reads:
|端溪濕潤石||This moist and glossy Duan Brook stone|
|價重百硨[俥]磲||Is worth more than a hundred mother of pearls.|
|己巳桂[挂]秋之月刻||Engraved during the cassia month of autumn in the year jisi|
The smooth back of the inkstone carries an inscription, which reads:
|破窗一夜驚風雨||As if bursting nightlong through the window fierce wind and rain|
|飛四磨崖一片來||Flew in all directions to grind and polish a cliff face slab.|
Duan stone is the most coveted type of inkstone, and according to the Song dynasty text Yunlin shi pu (Cloud Forest Stone Records), the scholar Du Wan identified the duan stone as originally from Duanxi in the Zhaoxian district of the Guangdong province. He further stated duan stone in particular was appreciated for its smooth and tightly packed granules, making it an ideal surface to ground the ink while maintaining the ink’s moisture.