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A Thousands-Year Old Bronze Water Dripper

22 June 2009

Sometimes some people are just so lucky (of course there should be hidden karmic reasons behind the phenomenon since there is no free lunch in this universe, as we firmly believe, so we are not whinge about that). When a Chinese farmer in Sichuan tried to root a tree, he discovered a priceless bronze ware buries underneath. After examination by the experts, the article was confirmed to be produced during the East Han Dynasty in the 1st century.

The bronze ware is made to be used as a water dripper (砚滴) to add water to the ink slab while grinding ink for writing or painting.

Apart from its advanced age, what's unusual about this item is its shape which resembles a turtle with a snake cooling on its back and a pan held by its mouth. Water can be added into the hidden container in the body of the turtle from an opening on the top surface, and by slightly tilting the turtle water would drop into the pan.

In the traditional Chinese culture, turtle is revered as Black Warrior (玄武), guarding the direction of north. As one of the four mystical and spiritual creatures in Chinese legends, it symbolizes one of the four fortunes in human life: longevity.

So far, China only has a few turtle-shaped ink dripper made of bronze in its entire collection.

(Source of info/photo: 吴伟 李罡 - 华西都市报)

Prev: 2,500-Year Old Crystal Ring
Next: The Traditional Anhui Architecture


The Homeland of the Best Ink Stick

An Anhui Village


Ink sticks, ink slabs, rice papers and writing brushes are traditionally called in China as four treasures in studio (文房四宝).

There are many varieties of the four treasures, but since the Great Ming Dynasty, the most treasured inks are from Anhui, which is known as Hui Ink (Huimo 徽墨) made from the pines that grow on magic Yellow Mountain (Huangshan 黄山).

Anhui, the native land of the Ming Emperors, is also the home to the best ink slabs, produced in Shexian (歙县), and the best rice paper and writing brushes, produced in Xuancheng (宣城).

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