Japanese Ink Stone with Auspicious Symbols
The quality of stone appropriate for ink stones is found in only a few places. Although the ink stone was invented by the Chinese, in Japan, 90% of ink stones are made in Ogatsu, which is in the Miyagi prefecture in the northern part of Japan. The Japanese term for the best grades of slate used in the manufacture of ink stones is tankai. The very best tankai are typically found in riverbeds. Japanese ink stones are made in all forms and shapes, but the natural and rectangular design with a well, or deeper impression on one side to hold the ink/water is seen as an effort to separate the grinding surface from the prepared ink. Very fine ink stones are typically encased in a wooden box or have wood bases and lids that work independent of each other. In essence, an ink stone is a small sculpture and has a specific utilitarian purpose supportive of the calligrapher. An ink stone does not have to be stone; ceramic, and even ivory grinding surfaces were originally used. However, the highly prized stone pieces ink stones as well, but the highly prized pieces typically play off of what nature creates and kept as natural and functional as possible.
This interestingly carved ink stone celebrates the beauty of nature by depicting a Pine Tree, Crane and Clouds (three auspicious symbols in Japan). A small reservoir for water and a smooth surface is used for preparing the ink. This old calligraphy stone has been meticulously cared for, yet today remains in good condition, though it does have marks and scratches from handling. The inkstone has a beautifully carved wood base with feet and a simple hand carved wood lid fashioned to interlock with the stone. This piece dates from the mid to late Showa period (approximately 1920-1926). It is in excellent condition. Dimensions: 4-3/8”l x 3-0”w x 1-3/4”h