SOLD – Antique Blue and White Porcelain Scholar’s Ink Cake Box, China ((16453GAL) $115



This finely hand-painted rectangular porcelain cobalt blue and white box with underglaze designs was used to store ink cakes as part of an assortment of prized items on a Chinese scholar’s desk. The cover is painted with bindweed designs, wave-like curved lines usually indicating water, and a fanciful bat’s face inside a continuous geometric meander or fret pattern. The box sides are covered with bindweed, spirals, and circles, and although circles and round shapes are usually associated with or represent heaven, these seem strictly decorative. There are traces of red, brown, and black ink inside and on the edges of the unglazed portions and rough and stained areas on the unglazed portions of the box and wear consistent with and demonstrating its age and use.


Out of stock

SKU: 16453GAL Categories: , , , Tags: ,


Ink is produced in hard sticks in China and is ground up on an inkstone with the addition of water. Along with paper, ink stones, and brushes, ink is regarded as one of the Four Treasures of Literary Study which were part of scholar’s accouterments (Welch, p. 264). Red ink is used for Chinese chops and seals and to sign documents, artwork, and other paperwork. Black ink is the go-to color for calligraphy. The bat (fu) is a very auspicious sign and a homophonic wish for good fortune, happiness and good luck. It is also among the most frequent symbols used in Chinese art. Because bindweed often grows wrapped around pine trees, it is used as a Chinese symbol of the close relationships of love and marriage and was an especially popular decoration for porcelain during the second half of the 19th century.


Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Hong Kong. The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006.

Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Singapore, Tuttle publishing, 2008.

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 1.75” W: 3.75” D: 3”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht:4.445cm W: 9.525cm D: 7.62cm


9 oz


Very good, losses from wear and use, no restorations/repairs

Item Number