Front cover image for The social life of inkstones : artisans and scholars in early Qing China

The social life of inkstones : artisans and scholars in early Qing China

Dorothy Ko (Author)
An inkstone, a piece of polished stone no bigger than an outstretched hand, is an instrument for grinding ink, an object of art, a token of exchange between friends or sovereign states, and a surface on which texts and images are carved. As such, the inkstone has been entangled with elite masculinity and the values of wen (culture, literature, civility) in China, Korea, and Japan for more than a millennium. However, for such a ubiquitous object in East Asia, it is virtually unknown in the Western world. Examining imperial workshops in the Forbidden City, the Duan quarries in Guangdong, the commercial workshops in Suzhou, and collectors' homes in Fujian, The Social Life of Inkstones traces inkstones between court and society and shows how collaboration between craftsmen and scholars created a new social order in which the traditional hierarchy of "head over hand" no longer predominated. Dorothy Ko also highlights the craftswoman Gu Erniang, through whose work the artistry of inkstone-making achieved unprecedented refinement between the 1680s and 1730s. "The Social Life of Inkstones" explores the hidden history and cultural significance of the inkstone and puts the stonecutters and artisans on center stage
Print Book, English, 2017
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2017
Exhibition catalogues
xii, 315 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps (some color) ; 27 cm.
9780295999180, 9780295999197, 0295999187, 0295999195
Chinese dynasties and periods
Map of China
chapter 1. The palace workshops : the emperor and his servants
chapter 2. Yellow Hill villages : the stonecutters
chapter 3. Suzhou : the crafts(wo)man
chapter 4. Beyond Suzhou : Gu Erniang the super-brand
chapter 5. Fuzhou : the collectors
Epilogue: The craft of wen
Appendix 1. Inkstones made by Gu Erniang mentioned in textual sources contemporary to Gu
Appendix 2. Inkstones bearing signature marks of Gu Erniang in major museum collections
Appendix 3. Members of the Fuzhou circle
Appendix 4. Textual history of Lin Fuyun's Inkstone chronicle (Yanshi)
Appendix 5. Chinese texts
Glossary of Chinese characters
"A William Sangki and Nanhee Min Hahn Book."
In English with some Chinese