This is one of ten ink cakes of different shapes and colors stored in an exquisite lacquer box. 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.
Ink Stick from an Imperially Commissioned Set of Ink Stick with Images and Poems of Famous West Lake Sites
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