The history of inkstone goes back to over 5,000 years ago. There is a lot of archeological evidence that Chinese used inkstone for grinding ink. There was a stone inkstone found in a 5,000-year-old archeological site in Jiazhai of Shanxi Province.
As one of the essential tool of ink brush painting, She inkstone, produced in Anhui Province in East China, is one of the most sought collector's item among the literati and elite for thousands of years. It is one of the Four Great Inkstones in Chinese history.
It is named after Shezhou Prefecture, Anhui Province, where it was first produced in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Many counties under the jurisdiction of this prefecture produce She ink slabs, but the best come from Longwei Mountain in Wuyuan County. Sometimes She ink slabs are referred to as Longwei inkstones.
She inkstone is made of gray, light green, or black rare slate with markings, and the stone appears in layers and is hard. She inkstone has three features: quick forming of ink, no harm done to the brush, and preserving wetness of ink.
She inkstone has a special artistic style with different markings resulting from geological changes with passage of time. Typical markings are Gold Star, Gold Star Patch, Gold Line, Silver Star, Silver Line, Cherry Blossom Gold Star, and Small Water Wave. More rare ones are Eyebrows, Jade Belt, Jade Belt with Gold Star, Big Water Wave, Fish Egg, Dates Kernel Eyebrows, Jade Patch, and so on.
According to records, this region was part of an ocean 13 billion years ago. Through glacier movement and volcano movement, the mud and other substance formed these rare inkstone slates. This is part of the reason that She inkstone is quite costly.