Inkwell or brushpot carving with seven monkeys
An incredible high-quality carving from soapstone.
3” tall x 5.25” diameter
The oldest identifiable soapstone sculptures date back more than 3,000 years. The oldest identified soapstone crafts where made by artisans in China. Experts believe that artwork made of soapstone has survived throughout the centuries because humidity does not cause the stones to break down. The Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1644, saw the height of soapstone production in China. Soapstone became the standard as jade prices rose, making it too expensive for many artists.
Spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East
From its beginnings in China, the art of working with soapstone spread throughout the world. The Cretan people of ancient Greece used soapstone to make stamps and receptacles. The Vikings employed soapstone carving skills in much of their jewelry. In Africa, sculptors in Zimbabwe produced many soapstone sculptures. The height of Zimbabwe's soapstone production was between the 11th and 16th centuries. Soapstone carvings were also a popular art form in Iran. By the 17th century, the mainland Europeans had begun to create soapstone works of art. Artisans began using it in crafts and it reached its height of popularity during the Art Deco period between the 1920s and 1940s
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