Ruan Yuan (1764-1849) is widely recognised as one of the most celebrated and multi-talented scholars of the Qing dynasty. Born in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, Ruan Yuan passed the jinshi examination in 1789, when he was only 25, and was subsequently appointed to the Hanlin Academy. Known as a highly accomplished calligrapher, painter and seal carver, Ruan Yuan is especially famous for his wide range of research and publications, such as Chouren zhuan (Biographies of Astronomers and Mathematicians), and for editing the Shisanjing zhushu (Commentaries and Notes on the Thirteen Classics) for the Qianlong emperor.
Lumingyan, or Luming banquet, was an annual imperial event originated in Tang dynasty held by the local governments for the newly selected scholars who passed local examinations. Here Ruan Yuan used it to refer to the annual imperial banquet given to members of the Hanlin Academy by Emperor Qianlong held at the Chonghua Palace during the New Year. During such event, the scholars as well as the Emperor would participate in a scholarly activity, lianju, 'linked verses', in which the guests would improvise poetic verses and link them to accomplish poems in a joint effort.
Compare, an inscribed imperial inkstone of Qianlong date and of similar form but with taotie-mask feet and slightly larger in size (14 cm. long) sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 May, 2014, lot 3377. Compare, also, two square Shiqu chengni inkstones in the Beijing Palace Museum and illustrated in The Four Treasures of the Study - Writing paper and Inkstones, Hong Kong, 2005, nos. 97 and 98, pp. 146-148.