A rectangular Duan inkstone with subtle convex surface, dipping at one end to form a receptacle for gathering of ink. On the reverse, a carved fan-shaped cartouche of plum blossom on top and a rectangular cartouche of a three-character poetry in seal script with the signature and seal of the calligrapher, Zhu Yizun, below and dated Kangxi 1685 autumn. Inscribed on one side: yong jian yuan nian zhu ti tang lang Zao (永建元年朱提堂狼造)
Inscription in the rectangular cartouche:
Strong yet gentle; rectangular and straight. Benevolence is the body; courtesy is the mind. It preserves its luster and holds the ink well. Does not wear due to grinding; does not turn black due to tinting. It became the standard (of a good inkstone).
In the year of Yichou, Kangxi period, Autumn (1685). Written at the Cuiyan studio. Zhucha (signature) sealed: Zhucha
"Does not wear due to grinding; does not turn black due to tinting." It is an idiom originally from The Analects of Confucius. It means our values ideally should not be affected by adverse environments. This saying should be the moral standard for both people and the inkstone.
Zhu Yizun (1629-1709), courtesy name Xichang, styled Zhucha and later Xiao Changlu Diaoyu Shi, was born in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. Zhu was one of the most celebrated savants and poets in the early Qing. A prolific writer and scholar, he produced a monumental work《經義考》Jingyi kao (General Bibliography of the Classics). As a shi poet, he rivaled his contemporary Wang Shizhen (1634-1711) in reputation. Equally renowned are his efforts - which include writing, editing, compiling, and other critical endeavors - in the ci (song lyric) genre.
In 1679, he passed the examination held for a selection of intellectuals who were commoners and was appointed a civil official at the Imperial Academy. He participated in compiling the History of the Ming Dynasty. In 1684, Zhu Yizun led a court worker to transcribe books in the palace against the court rule of the time. Zhu was caught, impeached and suffered a demotion.
After being demoted, Zhu did not become downcast, nor did he forget his obligations to society. He took two years to write and publish 《日下舊聞》 Rixia Jiuwen (Accounts of the Past Heard in the Sun-setting Precinct), in Kangxi 27th year (1688). "Sun-setting Precinct" refers to Beijing, so this book documents the various events that occurred within the city hundreds of years ago. In writing Rixia Jiuwen, Zhu collected and edited more than 1,600 books. For the purpose of sun-drying these books, he built Pushu Pavilion (Pavilion for Airing My Books).
His publications, like General Bibliography of the Classics, Accounts of the Past Heard in the Sun-setting Precinct, Catalogue of the Works Housed in the Pushu Pavilion, On Poses and On Poems of Ming Dynasty, are still published with scholarly commentary. Zhu also won himself fame in book collecting. His collection totaled over eighty thousand fascicles (juan).
Zhu Yizun was a learned scholar of classics and history. He was adept at poetry and classical prose. He was the founder of the Zhexi school of Ci Poetry. Some literary works of Zhu Yizun were desolate meditations on the past and historical odes. Born at the turn from the Ming to Qing dynasty, he advocated expressing personal emotions for the times and the lost country through songs and poems, so his works were often indignant, plaintive and gloomy. From his plain and fresh words one can appreciate his profound accomplishments.