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Su Shi yu yan wenhua. [Su Shi and the Culture of Inkstones]

Lo, Andrew (2002) 'Su Shi yu yan wenhua. [Su Shi and the Culture of Inkstones].' Songdai wenxue yanjiu congkan (Studies on Song Dynasty Literature), 8 . pp. 471-493.

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Abstract

The collection and appreciation of inkstones in the Song period became popular amongst the literati, and manuals on inkstones, and inkstone inscriptions can be found in their writings. However, it was Su Shi who was the first to compose a large number of these inscriptions. This article is a close reading of twenty-eight of his inscriptions on inkstones and an inkstone screen, twenty colophons and eleven poems, to discuss his contribution to the culture of inkstones. The first section introduces views of Song literati on various types of inkstones, including those of Su Shi. A discussion follows on the compositional techniques of Su Shi’s inscriptions on inkstones. Su Shi’s own collection of inkstones is then introduced, followed by a discussion of the zeal of literati of later periods in collecting Su Shi’s inkstones and an inkstone box with his signature. Through Song literati and Su Shi’s connoisseurship on inkstone material, presentation of inkstones as gifts, exchange of inkstones or snatching inkstones from friends, inscriptions on inkstones, colophons and poems, and collection and replicas of Su Shi’s inkstones in later periods, we come to an understanding of the meaning and value of inkstones for traditional literati. There is aesthetic and monetary value in collecting inkstones, but for traditional literati, it is the symbolic value that counts most. The ownership of inkstones of famous literati increases one’s symbolic capital, and when literati of later periods increasingly come to appreciate Su Shi, the symbolic value of his inkstones and inscriptions increases accordingly, and reaches a height in the mid Qing period. Collecting the inkstones of famous literati will increase one’s symbolic capital, but the article also raises the question of what happens when one collects the inkstone of a famous person who is morally base.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
Depositing User: Huei-Lan Liu
Date Deposited: 27 May 2008 15:52
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/3924

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