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"Warm Inkstone" with Dragons

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Period: Kangxi Reign (1662-1722), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: Songhua stone, cloisonné enamel
Origin: item used in the Qing court
Dimensions: inkstone: length: 14.3 cm, width: 11.2 cm, height: 2.5 cm brazier: length: 14.7 cm, width: 11.5 cm, height: 5 cm;

This inkstone is made of green Songhua stone, which, named after the Songhua River in Jilin province, was from the Manchu homeland in the northeast of the Qing empire. Because of its origins, the Qing imperial family was particularly fond of it.   
  The inkstone has four square feet with animal faces and, in between, a design of undulating dragons. Its surface is carved with a lotus-leaf-shaped ink pond and an indentation for holding water. Because it is supported by an enamel charcoal brazier that prevents ink from freezing in winter, this object is called "warm-inkstone." The upper part of the cloisonné enamel brazier has a circle of dragons in open work, while the lower part is decorated with patterns of two dragons flanking, not a flaming pearl, but a peach of longevity. The bottom of the brazier bears a four-character Kangxi reign mark in seal script (zhuan shu).   The exquisite carvings and luxurious designs of the inkstone and charcoal brazier reveal that this set was made explicitly for the Kangxi Emperor.

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