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Appreciating ancient inkstones

INKSTONES, one of China's celebrated "four treasures of the study," are displayed in the World Expo's DEVNET Pavilion where visitors can learn about their history and culture.

Inkstone, rice paper, ink and brush were considered the "four treasures of the study" and they themselves are often works of art combining carving and calligraphy. As they are used to create art and calligraphy as well, they were especially prized and many collectors seek them.

The Chinese Traditional Inkstone Culture Seminar was recently held at the DEVNET Pavilion, attracting experts, researchers and inkstone collectors.

Nearly 100 types of inkstones are displayed on the second floor, including some that are very elaborate and old. They are on loan from noted collector Liu Hongjun, who started to collect around 10 years ago.

Inkstones are believed to have been used as early as 6,000 years ago.

"Inkstones epitomize the culture, economic conditions and aesthetic taste of each dynasty," says Liu.

"The most miraculous thing is that some of the most ancient stones remain in good condition and look good, as though they have been passed on from generation to generation."

The most famous inkstones are probably Duan inkstones, found in Duanzhou, Guangdong Province. The inkstones were made from stones found at the bottom of a mountain stream.

The stones have a fine, solid texture and glossy sheen and the ink prepared in them does not dry quickly.

But as China has many mountains and rivers, inkstones are produced in many regions.

Because some are beautifully carved, they are also desk ornaments.

"Some ancient inkstones are appreciated like antiques," says Liu.

The exhibition also features modern inkstones that are also pieces of art, fusing utilitywith aesthetics.


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