As one of the Four Treasures of Study in China(brush, ink, paper and inkstone), Chinese ink, or ink stick, is the key part in the Chinese traditional calligraphy and painting. It is a kind of ink in solid and should be ground with water for use. Originally a pigment only in black, ink was gradually derived to the red ink and then colored ink in later periods. The primitive ink was used as early as in 14th century BC on some oracle bones, and the matured ink was produced in Warring States Period (475BC- 221BC) with a history of over 2000 years. In terms of the making material, there are three kinds of ink, namely, lampblack ink, pine-soot ink and carbon black ink. Except the major components, carbon black, pine-soot and gum, lots of other ingredients are added into the ink for better writing and preserving. These ingredients includes perfume, medicine and other materials such as lilac, lithospermum, ash bark, hematoxylon, pearl, egg white, fishskin glue, etc.
Though simple and single, ink stick is indispensable in Chinese calligraphy and painting, presenting the splendid artistic conceptions to people. With its sole color in the past the black, artists have created a rich complex in their works in changeful shades. What’s more, ink stick makes it possible that modern people today still can appreciate the masterpieces created tens of centuries ago.
As a traditional and daily consumable in the past, ink was made almost in every area in the country, of which the Hui Ink (made in ancient Huizhou in Anhui Province) is the most famous and regarded as the treasure with its exquisite craftsmanship, attractive appearance and its superior quality. Today, Hui style ink stick is still produced in Anhui Province, and it is easy to find in shops in Tunxi and Shexian County.
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