Taohe inkslab

Ming Dynasty
Length: 15.8 cm, Width: 9.1 cm, Thickness: 5.3 cm

Taohe stones, of which this inkslab is made, were named after it origin in Taohe River in Gansu. Their exploitation, which started in Song Dynasty, was very difficult because they were usually found at places with deep water and rapid currents. As Zhao Xigu, a man in Song Dynasty, wrote, ‘Besides Duan and She stones, Taohe stones were the most valuable in the north. Green and smooth, they could be made into top-quality inkslabs. However, lying on the bed of the deep river, they are very hard to obtain and are therefore priceless.’ For that reason, few Taohe inkslabs have been handed down.
This inkslab, with a fine, smooth texture and a light green color with a yellow tint, is among the best of its kind. Simply shaped, it is bordered with lifelike dragons playing with water in shallow relief. It used to be in the possession of Ji Xiaolan (1724~1805), a Qing scholar from Xian County in Hebei. He was the chief compiler of Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Siku quanshu), and the complier of Annotated Catalogue of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao).