Ink for calligraphy and painting was made from soot mixed with a binding medium and formed into ink tablets, which were then ground with water to yield the liquid ink. Ink tablets were among the objects especially treasured and keenly appreciated by Chinese scholars.
This ink tablet is decorated with a design of a peach tree, symbolic of longevity. An inscription indicates that it was made in 1576 in the workshop of Fang Yulu (active ca. 1570–1619) under the supervision of Cheng Dayue (Cheng Junfang, 1541–ca. 1616), both famous inkmakers