Chinese ink-stone! what is it? It is literally a mortar for grinding and containing ink. Or you could say an artists mixing palette for ink. It evolved from a tool for rubbing dyes, around 7000 years ago. The Chinese ink was solidified into a stick or round ink-cake, which were then gradually ground down on the surface of the stone using a circular movement and with the addition of water from a water dropper which controlled the amount of water. The ink that was produced from this went into the ink-stones reservoir, until enough ink had been produced for the task at hand.