Literati’s Farmland


Date:2015-07-17 ~ 2015-10-07
Venue:No. 3 Exhibition Hall

       An ink-stone is a mortar for grinding ink-ingots. As a traditional stationery implement of Chinese characteristic it plays an irreplaceable role in the development and dissemination of Chinese culture and civilization. Its origin can be traced back to its predecessor - the grinding tool of the Neolithic Age. The earliest ink-stone was unearthed in the Shuihudi Qin dynasty tomb, Yunmeng, Hubei Province. Early ink-stones were made more for their functional usage. Since the Tang and Song dynasties literati have been paying close attention to the appearance and material of ink-stones. Duan stone and She stone became highly valued. Ming and Qing dynasties marked the peak of the history of ink-stone. The ink-stones made during this period were of various designs and materials.
    Shanghai museum has a rich collection of ink-stones of all dynasties and various categories. The most characteristic pieces are the ink-stones with literati inscriptions and the recorded ink-stones in literati’s catalogues of the Ming-Qing period, as well as the ones made by modern master Chen Duanyou. Via these masterpieces the exhibition intends to show the development and history of Chinese ink-stones.
    Under the dim lamp light ancient Chinese literati used brushes as plows and ink-stones as farmlands. Plowing through scrolls is the only way to live their dreams. Looking at these ink-stones is like meeting these ancient scholars face to face. By understanding the unique traditional practice of writing, we will have a sense of the sentiments and aspiration of the literati in history as well as the most profound inner world of Chinese civilization.