late Qing dynasty (1644–1911, early Republic period
late 19th–early 20th century
Diam. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1929
Not on view
High-quality ink cakes produced by Cheng Junfangand Fang Yulu are often decorated with designs that have literary allusions. The motif of five pines on this ink cake is derived from the story of the first emperor's trop to Tai Mountain, where he was caught in a storm. He took shelter under an ancient pine tree, on which he later conferred the official title Wutafu. A later misunderstanding of this title gave rise to the motif of five pine trees. The black stag motif on the square ink cake. Nearby alludes to the stag-tail dusters used by scholars and to their brilliant conversations.
Inscription: Reverse: poem by Cao Zhi of the 3rd century, beginning: "Ink is derived from black pine soot". Made by Fang Yülu under the supervision of Cheng Junfang. Dated 1602.