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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Longde (“Virtuous Power of Dragons”) ink-cake

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Longde (“Virtuous Power of Dragons”) ink-cake

18th century or later

The writing brush, paper, ink-cake, and inkstone are the “four treasures” of the Chinese scholar’s study—desk accessories prized by all who were literate. Even though ink-cakes are ground down during use, they were sometimes molded into highly elaborate forms. This piece shows two dragons chasing an actual embedded pearl. The original mold was one of a set designed by the imperial workshop master craftsman Liu Yuan (ca. 1621–1691), to make ink for the emperor Kangxi (reigned 1662–1722) in the Palace of Cultivating One’s Nature (Yangxing dian)
Ink with pearl
2 1/2 x 3/4 in. (6.35 x 1.91 cm)
L.: 6 1/8 in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: Purchased Yamanaka, New York, 1938 for Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art, Aug. 9 - Dec. 2, 2007.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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