January 23, 2012
Searching for the Ink Immortal
Carved by Ian Boyden on January 1, 2012
25 x 15 mm
This seal reads, 寻墨仙, which means "Searching for the Ink Immortal." I carved it on New Year's Day as an auspice for the year 2012. The Ink Immortal is a name that the poet Su Shi gave to an ink maker named Pan Gu, whose ink was said to be sublime. He evidently walked around with his cloths black with soot and his hands were so chapped they looked like tortoise shells. He was mischievously virtuosic, and a hero among the literati of the Song dynasty. He was also a great lover of wine, so much so that one night he fell into a well while looking at the moon's reflection and drowned. And thus he joined the ranks of Qu Yuan and Li Po. It is not my hope to drown in a well. Instead, I strive to join the ranks of the Ink Immortal via my own ink production. I have been living in China for the past few months researching the history of Chinese carbon inks. This has taken me into some marvelous territory. In the coming months I am going to be making ink with an ink maker in Anhui Province. I will share stories and images of that process soon.
Happy Year of the Dragon.