The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China by Dorothy KoThe Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China by Dorothy Ko

The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China

byDorothy Ko

Hardcover | February 7, 2017

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An inkstone, a piece of polished stone no bigger than an outstretched hand, is an instrument for grinding ink, an object of art, a token of exchange between friends or sovereign states, and a surface on which texts and images are carved. As such, the inkstone has been entangled with elite masculinity and the values of wen (culture, literature, civility) in China, Korea, and Japan for more than a millennium. However, for such a ubiquitous object in East Asia, it is virtually unknown in the Western world.

Examining imperial workshops in the Forbidden City, the Duan quarries in Guangdong, the commercial workshops in Suzhou, and collectors? homes in Fujian, The Social Life of Inkstones traces inkstones between court and society and shows how collaboration between craftsmen and scholars created a new social order in which the traditional hierarchy of ?head over hand? no longer predominated. Dorothy Ko also highlights the craftswoman Gu Erniang, through whose work the artistry of inkstone-making achieved unprecedented refinement between the 1680s and 1730s.

The Social Life of Inkstones explores the hidden history and cultural significance of the inkstone and puts the stonecutters and artisans on center stage.

Dorothy Ko is professor of history at Barnard College. She is the author of Cinderella?s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding and coeditor of The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory.
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Title:The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing ChinaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:330 pages, 10.26 × 7.23 × 0.97 inPublished:February 7, 2017Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295999187

ISBN - 13:9780295999180

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Editorial Reviews

Ko fires the imagination in her examination of the inkstone in its full richness, both as a writing tool and a sculptural work of art in early Qing dynasty society. These objects tell us complex stories about artistic competition, gendered values, and the many roles of craft in eighteenth-century China.

- Foong Ping, author of The Efficacious Landscape: On the Authorities of Painting at the Northern Song Court