Advancement News

We are delighted to celebrate the publication of the first book supported by the William Sangki and Nanhee Min Hahn Endowment for Books on East Asia, The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China, by Dorothy Ko. Reviewers have had nothing but praise for the book. Author Jonathan Hay describes it as “a magical text. I have little doubt that The Social Life of Inkstones will become not only a point of reference, but also a book that readers simply love.” In the words of Foong Ping, the Seattle Art Museum’s curator of East Asian art, “Ko fires the imagination in her examination of the inkstone in its full richness, both as a writing tool and a sculptural work of art in early Qing dynasty society. These objects tell us complex stories about artistic competition, gendered values, and the many roles of craft in eighteenth-century China.” Dagmar Schäfer writes, “A master of her trade, Ko draws on artifacts and texts to unfurl Qing material, intellectual, and social life. She enlivens a world in which inkstones constituted hidden treasures and constant companions for daily use. Guiding us into the dark pits and workshops, the collector’s studio and imperial halls, Ko presents a fine example of how gender, regional studies, and the history of technology should be combined. A feast for any historian of material cultures, the arts, and crafts.”

Established by longtime UW Press board members Bill and Nan Hahn, the endowment supports books on East Asia by top scholars and writers, with a special emphasis on the experiences and roles of women in politics, education, culture, and society.