The poem inscribed above the well was composed by the Northern Song poet Su Shi (1037-1101), who is known to have given to his friend Chen Mingying an inkstone on which he incised the same poem that appears on the present example. The poem cites the antiquity and the source of the stone, and extolls its qualities, as well as its worthiness of being preserved by later generations.
The inscription on one side is signed Gao Fenghan (1683-1749), a well-known Qing dynasty poet, painter, calligrapher and seal carver, known for his love of inkstones. The inscription states that the inkstone previously belonged to Lantai Zheng shan ren (hermit Zheng of Lantai), that the stone comes from Qingzhou (present-day Shangdong province), that the carving is reminiscent of statues from the Five Dynasties, and that Gao was asked to carve the inscription by his friend Wen shan ren (hermit Wen).
A Duan inkstone similar in shape to the present inkstone, dated Qianlong, and similarly inscribed with an inscription and a seal above the circular grinding surface was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 16-17 January 1989, lot 409.