Jade Scholar’s Inkstone

Twelfth to Fourteenth Century

Length: 4 inches (10.16 cm)

Grey and Black Nephrite Jade


This scholar’s inkstone is of exceptionally simple design and elegant workmanship, suggesting that it was made for use during the lifetime of a social elite, rather than for use in the afterlife. James Watt writes in The Chinese Scholar’s Studio that of the four treasures of the scholars studio- brush, ink, paper, and inkstone – more attention was lavished on the selection of the inkstone than any other. It was believed among the scholars that unadorned pieces were more graceful and their creation required a higher degree of skill. This aesthetic held that apparent simplicity is in fact the ultimate development of refinement.


The present example is of a mottled grey and black material with some black inclusions. The stone is incised with three intersecting circles at the top, and a fine border around the well of the inkstone. It is housed in a highly polished wooden box with two mother of pearl inlays. In our opinion the workmanship, material, and subject matter suggest a date between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.


Reference Number: 3641

Price Available Upon Request


For an in depth discussion of art objects made for the Scholars Studio, see The Chinese Scholar’s Studio, Artistic Life in the Late Ming Dynasty by Li Chu-Tsing and James C.Y. Watt. Thames and Hudson, New York, 1987.


For a further discussion on the decorative arts of the Chinese scholar please see “The Chinese Scholar’s Taste and The Decorative Arts.” Wang Shixiang. Orientations, August 1987. Pages 40-47.


To inquire about this work of art, contact us at 415.299.1600 or email at sbernsteinjade@aol.com