Lot 34

Turtle-shaped inkstone
China. Late Han period, 1st-2nd centuries
Terracotta. L. 27 cm
This rare inkstone model shows the animal standing on its four legs with its head raised. The removable shell hides the classic structure of the inkstone with the water reservoir in the upper part at the base of the neck. Some of the scales of the carapace are decorated with trigrams as is customary on this type of object.
The turtle has always been considered a beneficial animal in China. It would be considered a cosmic symbol, with the flat ventral part of the shell associated with the earth, and the dome-shaped upper part with the celestial vault.
This importance is also evidenced by the number of ventral carapaces used for divination under the Shang, engraved from jiǎgǔwén.
The association of the turtle with water is certainly at the origin of the creation of this type of object allowing the scholar to mix water and ink.

For another ink stone of this type offered by Robert Rousset to the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet in 1978, inv. MA.4465, cf: Jean-Paul Desroches - " Compagnons d'éternité " Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet / Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Grand Palais - Paris 1997, pp 96 to 98. For another housed in the collections of the Miho Museum in Kyoto, cf. museum catalogue pl.119.


- Estate of Madame Anne-Marie Rousset
- Former Robert Rousset collection (1901-1981)
- Carries two labels from old inventories of the Robert Rousset collection prior to 1935.