The name Ye Zhishen inscribed on the base of the inkstone is an important bronze collector and epigraphist whose dates were given as 1779-1863, cf. Zhongguo Meishujia Renmin Cidian, Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1985, p. 1216. The inscription Baotan Zhai Zhencang, 'Precious collection of the Baotan Studio indicates that this was a gift from Ye Zhishen to a person whoes studio name is Baotan Zhai.
The text is known as the 'Lanting Preface', originally written by the greatest of all calligraphers, Wang Xizhi (circa 307-365). The Lanting (Orchid Pavilion) gathering took place in the ninth year of the Yonghe reign of the Eastern Jin dynasty (353). A total of forty-two scholars were invited to the Orchid Pavilion near Shanyin, Zhejiang province, for the Spring Purification Festival where a scholarly game took place. The participants were tasked to compose poems having each been given an initial character. Those who produced two poems had to drink one cup of wine whilst those who only composed one poem drank two cups, and those who failed to compose any poetry at all, paid a forfeit of consuming three cups.