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Average: 3.9 x 8.3 cm (1 9/16 x 3 1/4 in.)
Gift of Henry W. Kent 1942.215
This exquisite lacquer box contains ten ink cakes of different shapes and colors. Each is inscribed in gold with a poem by the Qianlong emperor, praising the ten famous sights of the Westlake in Hangzhou, near Shanghai. The Westlake is famous for its natural beauty; it was a favorite imperial destination and remains a tourist attraction today.
Ink cakes (also called ink sticks) are dissolved with the addition of water and ground on the surface of a flat stone into liquid ink for painting and calligraphy. The precious ink cakes here, however, have never been used.
The inscription in mother of pearl inlay on the box’s cover says: Imperially Made Gold Inscribed Poems of Images of [the Ten] Sights of the Westlake.
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