Reference work entry
This inkstone is simply called Helan stone, and it obtained its name because it is produced in the Helan Mountains in Yinchuan, Ningxia Province. The rock is silty sericite slate that was deposited at the bottom of the Proterozoic Changcheng Series Huangqikou Group. It is dark purple, greyish purple or light brown, and its main minerals are sericite, quartz and illite. The Helan inkstone has a combination of green and purple colours and a fine texture like jade. Some have jade-like strips, cloud patterns, brow patterns, silver lines and stone eyes. The stones always have patterns like clouds, the moon, water or mountains, which are interesting and natural. This inkstone does not absorb water, and it is easy to spread ink on it. It is wear-resistant, and when covered, the ink remains moist and does not become smelly after several days. It is an excellent inkstone material and can also be used for other types of stone crafts, such as high-quality grinding stones and oil stones (Fig. 5).
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