Wang Chin-sheng, Commemorative Ink Cake, 1844, Qing dynasty. Lampblack and organic binders, 5/8 x 5-5/8 x 5-5/8 in. (1.6 x 14.3 x 14.3 cm). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 2001.138.7. Minneapolis Institute of Arts © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
This finely detailed ink cake designed by Wang Chin-sheng is decorated with a low relief landscape painting and poem after the great literatus Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559) on one side and with cavorting dragons and a poetic inscription by the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-95) on the reverse.
The poem by Wen reads:
An elegant pavilion at the turn of the stream;
The pine tops crane out of the woods.
Fallen leaves drift away on the water,
Autumn’s colors stay completely covering the fragrant mountain.
The emperor’s poem states:
Examining his book under a pine tree,
Clutching his stick he crosses the bridge.
If there is no servant boy sent to meet him,
A crane will come to greet him instead.
The voice of the spring falls with the wind;
The sound of the stream rises with the clouds.
In this scene of the immortal’s terraces.
Beauties walk back and forth.
Respectfully copied by your servant, Kuan Huai.
The relief inscription on the ink’s edge dates it to 1844 and records the maker’s name as Wang Chin-sheng. This is a 19th century descendant of the famous 18th century Anhui ink maker of the same name. He has apparently carried on the use of his famous ancestor’s name in the family business.