Marble inkstone for cinnabar ink
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dragon inkstone








ink stone (砚yan) for coloured inks.


White marble probably Italian. This is a beachcombed stone. On one particular Aberdeenshire beach I have found a few small pieces of fine marble slab which I presume are from a cast out pantry shelf or washstand. They are very hard to spot as in sea worn condition it looks very like native quartz until you try it with steel.


A cloud dragon playing with a flaming pearl of wisdom. I have to confess this one comes close to an indulgence in Chinoisserie.

Other info

None of the main types of stone traditionally used for inkstones seem to be exported in an unworked state, so I have had to experiment seeking alternatives. It is also very difficult to obtain accurate mineralogical information on traditional substances like Duan stone (referred to frequently on the internet as a fossiliferous limestone but also sometimes as ‘volcanic tuff’ it cannot be both and I somehow doubt it is either). The ideal surface texture for grinding ordinary black ink is said to be that of a babies stomach. While many inkstones have been made from overly crystalline or super polished stones like jade, rock crystal or any other quartz; these have more to do with the status of the stone than practical ink making. Cinnabar ink is another matter as on a dark gray or green stone it is impossible to judge the colour. Pale ceramics are often used but can be a little coarse, I find marble is ideal.

Dimensions in millimetres