finely carved of slightly dished flattened goose form, the bird with its head and beak turned to the side and its wings neatly folded over its back, the head carved with a six-character seal mark Sanxi Tang jingjian xi ('Thoroughly examined by the Hall of the Three Rarities'), the base carved with two seal marks, Guxi tianzi ('Seal of the Son of Heaven at Seventy') and Yangxin dian yu shang ('Appreciation of the Hall of Mental Cultivation'), together with a poetic inscription pertaining to calligraphy and ink by the official Dong Gao, wood stand
The tradition of making instones began in the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) and have since been highly valued amongst scholars. The most cherished type of Duan stone was the variety of purplish-brown colour, which was usually reserved for making inkstones for the influential minority of scholars, sages and monks. They were considered to be the most prized item of a gentleman's studio. Duan inkstones represent a stylistically homogenous group, featuring exquisite use of the natural colours in the material. They were quarried and carved in Guangdong province, Suzhou and Bejing.
The charming bird-form of this inkstone, with the gently turned head and feet carved naturalistically on the reverse, has its roots in the Song dynasty; see a Duan stone example in the form of a goose, with a later added imperial inscription, published in The National Palace Museum's Ancient Inkstones Illustrated in the Imperial Catalogue. Hsi-ch'ing yen-p'u, Taipei, 1998, pl. 46. Compare also a swan-shaped chengni inkstone attributed to the Ming dynasty, from the Muwen Tang collection, illustrated in Simon Kwan, Chinese Inkstones, Hong Kong, 2005, pl. 88. In each of these inkstones, as the remnants of black ink settle into the carved feathers and crevices of the body the naturalism of the bird is cleverly and subtly heightened.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.