Han Turtle Ink Stone
This reproduction of a turtle used as an ink stone is a molding of the original work on display at the Musée des Arts Asiatiques in Guimet.
Original grey terracotta, probably from northern China, later Han period, 1st-3rd century AD.
This flat and ovoid object resting on four feet, shaped in grey earth with traces of slip, represents a turtle. Its body forms a container with two compartments separated by an arched wall. The front part serves as a water tank to moisten the ink stick, which must then be rubbed concentrically on the circular plate placed behind it.
This ink stone was originally intended to have a domed lid, probably incised with scaly patterns of a shell, as evidenced by the complete example of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.