Carved Gray Lingbi Scholar’s Rock

Circa 1920
Reference #: W1047

Width: 16 ½ inches (41.91 cm)
Depth: 5 inches (12.70 cm)
Height: 13 ½ inches (34.29 cm)

The dark grey stone elegantly carved and shaped into an intense landscape of jagged peaks and rounded valleys. The stone retaining some of the rough exterior. Supported on an intricately carved rosewood base.

Lingbi scholar’s rocks come from Lingbi county in Anwei province. They are found deep within the earth, and the blackest stones are most prized. The color must be gleam like lacquer, though it can have white vein tracings throughout. This unusual example follows in the tradition of those scholar’s rocks displayed in the studios of the literati since the Song dynasty. Many types of scholar’s rocks have been identified in Robert Mowry’s definitive publication, Worlds Within Worlds, The Richard Rosenblum Collection of Chinese Scholars’ Rocks.

Perched on a scholar’s table, such rocks would transport the scholar into the landscape of their surface, and away from the worldliness of the studio. Much like a scroll painting, a good rock leads the viewer on an imaginary journey. As the eye wanders over the rough peaks of the present rock, one can imagine cool waters pooling in the crevices below. The choice of such a rock is succinctly explained by Liang Jiutu, a 19th-century scholar, in his Tanshi (Chats on rocks): “If the rock does not seem like a painting by the powers of nature, then you shouldn’t choose it.”

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