Personal ethics and aesthetics

Ink and inkstones

Inkstones - the complement of ink – are often made from dark stone where light-coloured impurities may be used to launch elegantly playful designs.

Here a white vein crosses a silky smooth purple stone. The craftsman preserves this feature and carves a spray of plum blossoms around it. The unpolished impurity now becomes a knotty branch that gradually recedes into the stone’s surface. The blossoms of the plum are rendered in tight lines, the smooth surface of the stone representing the texture of petals.

The inkstone itself is left rough at the edge, so that it may feel like a raw stone or ‘found object’ from which the decoration and the surface for ink preparation have emerged though some miracle of nature. Turning it over, the obverse of the stone provides a second, plainer surface for preparing ink.


  Carved inkstone
Late 19th or early 20th century
Private collection