A Duan melon-form inkstone in zitan box and cover

Mid Qing Dynasty, probably 18th century


the elegant small inkstone of dark brown tone and delicately carved in low relief as a natural melon form, the reverse with leafy foliage and vine-like tendrils extending from a branch at one end, the melon lobed and flattened, the main face with a continuation of the design at one end with a beetle and an area of rotting fruit -flesh cleverly carved as the water/ink receptacle, the melon-form box more simply carved 


Inkstone: 3 1/2 inches long (with zitan box 4 inches long)


For a very similar purple duan inkstone and fitted wood box dated to the Qing dynasty see,Tianjin Shi Yishu Bowuguan cang yan (Ink Stones in the Tianjin Municipal Museum), Cultural Relics Bureau, 1979,  no. 74


For a slightly earlier melon-form duan inkstone from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) see The Four Treasures of the Study - Writing Paper and Inkstones, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum,Vol. 48, Hong Kong, 2005, p. 101, no. 64