Inkstone Buyers Guide

This is a guide to the types of stone and how to buy them, for general introduction and workshop pictures see Ink Stone, a work of art used for making art.

Inkstones come in an enormous variety of shapes, sizes and prices, some of the main factors to consider are:

  • Shape: varies from round/oval, rectangular/trapezoid, to huge pebble/rock shapes
  • Carving: almost anything is possible but typically eg:
    • geometric patterns
    • flower / branch, Shanshui landscape scene
    • special designs like basket-weave, water-buffalo
  • Stone type:
    • pattern: the stone may have gold speckles or flecks or embedded wave or crazing pattern.  Note that whichever the pattern, the inkstone surface is smooth, this is embedded natural patterning.
    • source: ancient mine stone is of very limited supply and high cost.  Also, different mines produce different pattern stone.  歙砚  Sheyan “She stone” inkstones take their name from SheXian “She County”, in Anhui province, prefecture of ancient Huizhou “Hui city”, the “Hui” part of today’s AnHui province.  Cheaper student inkstones may be produced from similar stone but not from these mines.
  • Size: note that when the stone type is of limited supply, the larger stones are exponentially more expensive, since it is more difficult to get a complete large stone in the best pattern.
  • Packaging:
    • small/student inkstones are normally packaged in card box,
    • small-medium professional inkstones may be presented in a made-to-measure solid camphorwood box: this is expensive and only included where pictured and indicated.
    • large inkstones – let us know if you have any special needs

Since the variety of shapes and decorations are infinite, we can’t list them all so for more information please ask us. Here are just a few examples for inspiration:

In the shop we have some examples with different patterns of stone:

Speckled “Eel Yellow Caviar”(Ji Yuan Mine)

Speckled “Green Caviar” (Ji Yuan Mine)

Rippling waves pattern (new Mine)

Golden shadow (new Mine)

Crazed vein pattern (Ancient Mine)

Gold fleck pattern (new Mine)

Smooth vein pattern (new Mine)

Ready-made and entry level inkstones

Read more about Inkstones


We also had a good book recommendation for those wanting to learn more: The Social Life of Inkstones – Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China by DOROTHY KO

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