Duan Inkstones in Intangible Cultural Heritage

Cloud Dragon Pattern Inkstone
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    In 2006, the art of crafting Duan inkstones was inscribed on the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The craft has been passed down for over 1300 years in local areas of Duanzhou such as Baishi Village and Binri Village. 

    Pit Child Rock Carved Eagle and Peach Inkstone

    The main method of transmission is through family inheritance or master-apprentice relationships, with each family boasting its unique style and crafting techniques. After 1949, the state gave great attention to inkstone craftsmen, awarding them titles and encouraging older artists to teach their craft to apprentices. In 2006, Duan inkstone culture began to be included in local primary and secondary school education. 

    In 2011, universities and vocational schools started offering academic education in the art of Duan inkstones, opening a path that combines the traditional human cultivation of Duan inkstone crafting skills with school education, leading to a qualitative leap in the inheritance of Duan inkstone crafting techniques.

    Duan inkstones

    Currently, there are 764 professional technicians with titles and designations in the Duan inkstone industry. Among them, there are 25 national masters of arts and crafts, inkstone art masters, and inheritors of intangible cultural heritage; 46 provincial masters of arts and crafts, inkstone art masters, inheritors of intangible cultural heritage, and technical experts; and 140 city-level masters of arts and crafts, inkstone art masters, inheritors of intangible cultural heritage, and technical experts. Additionally, a group of expert scholars engaged in the study of Duan inkstone culture and art have emerged.

    Major forms of Duan inkstones include:

    "Nine-Colored Lotus Leaf Inkstone" is primarily made of white Duan stone.

    The Nine-Colored Lotus Leaf Inkstone is typically crafted from Du’an stone, a type of stone that is considered one of the best materials for making inkstones in China. Du’an stone has excellent water absorption and ink capacity, allowing the ink to maintain an appropriate level of humidity and to keep its color vibrant and long-lasting.

    Nine-Colored Lotus Leaf Inkstone

    Scenic Mountain and River Inkstone

    The Scenic Mountain and River Inkstone often selects delicate, color-rich stones like Duan inkstones, She inkstones, and Cheng inkstones, among other valuable inkstones. These stones are intricately carved and polished, presenting a poetic and picturesque artistic effect. The crafting process fully exploits and utilizes the natural patterns and hues of the inkstone, creating lively landscapes.

    Scenic Mountain and River Inkstone

    Cloud Dragon Pattern Inkstone

    This type of inkstone is rectangular, with stone eyes on the inkstone surface. A shallow relief of auspicious clouds and a soaring dragon are carved onto it.

    Cloud Dragon Pattern Inkstone

    Pit Child Rock Carved Eagle and Peach Inkstone

    This piece is also rectangular. The stone chamber contains bear leaf white, blue and white flowers, fire rubs, and ten distinguished stone eyes. Above the inkstone, a peach tree laden with fruits is carved in relief. A majestic eagle with folded wings stands on a branch, looking down curiously at the two stone eyes on the inkstone surface. The fire rub pattern on the upper right corner is reminiscent of the evening sky. The composition is interesting, and the carving is powerful.

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