<p style='text-align: justify;'>The Chinese collections in Cambridge University Library include several hundred sheets of ink rubbings such as the one shown here.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The technique by which ink rubbings are produced is simple but effective. A stiff brush is used to beat dampened sheets of thin rag paper into impressions carved in stone. After the paper has dried, an inked pad is carefully tamped over the surface, resulting in a perfect copy of the inscription, usually in white on a black background. This technique has been in use for over 1,500 years and was a stage in the development of printing.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Unlike the originals of which they are copies, ink rubbings are portable and easy to keep safe; thanks to their existence many valuable inscriptions which have long since fallen victim to weathering and vandalism have been preserved.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The unusual ink rubbing shown here is of an inscription dated 1639. It is not known when the rubbing was made, but the original inscription probably no longer survives.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Zhu Changfang 朱常[氵芳], the author of the inscription, was a scion of the imperial house of Ming and the last hereditary prince of Lu 潞 (in the vicinity of present-day Hangzhou). Seven years after making this art-work, he perished at the hands of the Manchu invaders with the fall of the Ming Dynasty.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The flower is probably Cymbidium sinense or C. ensifolium.</p>
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