Shandong Red-silk Stone Inkstone 19th c.
Red-silk stone is found in Shandong Province. According to an ancient record, it was already being excavated by the Jin dynasty, and reached its peak of popularity during the Tang and Song dynasty. Shandong Red-silk stone is a microcrystalline limestone. It is a dense, fine-grain stone with the hardness of about 4 degrees. There are three significant characters of Red-silk stone. First, the texture of the stone is delicate and smooth. Second, the stone is reddish yellow with yellow or red fine veins. Third, when it is carved into an inkstone, it keeps the moisture of the ink. Therefore, the Red-silk stone inkstone is one of four great inkstones from ancient times. However, the increasing depletion of the source material caused its use to decline from the late Southern Song dynasty.
This inkstone is made of good quality Red-silk stone and carved into a form called "Chaoshou inkstone". Chaoshou inkstone first appeared in the Five dynasties. Evolved from inkstone in the form of a dustpan in the Tang dynasty, it became more typical in the Song dynasty. Its bottom is hollowed out and there are two full side feet-like walls, by which the inkstone could be held by inserting a couple fingers or a hand underneath.