QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY
The inkrest is carved from a rectangular-shaped block of wumu with rounded corners inlaid in
silver of a scrolling pattern and inset with a rectangular green and white dreamstone. The upper
right corner of the dreamstone is inscribed with the four characters songshan diecui 松山疊翠 ‘Pine
Mountains in Jade-Green Layers’ and signed Boyuan 伯元.
Boyuan 伯元is the personal name (zi 字) of the high official literatus Ruan Yuan 阮元 (1764- 1849); see Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period, 399-402. While Ruan was governor-general of Yunan-Guizhou (1826-1835), he acquired a marble quarry in Dali and began collecting painting stones (shihua 石畫), which when cut, polished, and inscribed were sent back to the Ruan family home in Yangzhou. An inventory of such stones was kept by Ruan and his sons in the form of an annotated list of inscribed titles, physical descriptions, and literary associations. This was eventually published as the Shihua ji 石畫記 (Record of Painting Stones) in five fascicles in Guangdong in the Xuehaitang congke 學海堂叢刻 (Sea of Learning Academy Collectanea) in 1877. Most of these Ruan family painting stones were destroyed when Yangzhou was devastated during the Taiping rebellion. Although no record of a Songshan diecui 松山疊翠 ‘Pine Mountains in Jade-Green Layers’ with that exact title appears in the Shihua ji 石畫記 (Record of Painting Stones), there does appear one with a similar title and description Wansong diecui 萬松疊翠 (Myriad Pines in Jade- Green Layers) whose excerpt (2:8b) can be translated as follows:
The lower half is brook-green colour, and the mountains, covered all over in deep green colour and dotted to look like distant pines, appear as three rising and falling peaks.
Ruan Yuan 阮元 (1764-1849)