World Ceramics: How was it used?

The inkstone was one of the "Four Treasures" of the Chinese scholar, along with the inkstick, brush, and paper. A scholar used the inkstone to grind and mix ink for writing. The ink itself was made from pine soot, compressed with an adhesive gum into a dry cake or stick. The inkstick was grated against the grainy inside of the inkstone while water was added from a dropper to make the ink liquid. The scholar used a brush to produce an elegant form of writing called CALLIGRAPHY.. The flexibility of the brush depended on the type of hair used for the bristles. With a good brush, a writer could produce a great variety of downstrokes and upstrokes.

Inkstones found in tombs tell us that many scholars of the first and second centuries A.D. practiced calligraphy, which along with painting was considered one of the highest arts. The tortoise-shaped inkstone is a rare testament to the significant position of the scholar in Chinese society.


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