The Ink Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy for English Speakers - Vincent's Calligraphy

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The Ink

The carbon-based ink (墨) is made up of soot which is either obtained from smoked wood or oil (1)(2). Traditonally, the soot is mixed with oil and other additives, made into a dough, dried, and then cut into inksticks.  Liquid ink is obtained by rubbing the inkstick with water on an inkstone as illustrated below:

"East Asian calligraphy scheme 01-en" by Yug - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

However, it is now quite common to use prepared liquid ink (墨汁) straight from a bottle rather than preparing from an inkstick and inkstone.  These pre-made liquid inks often offer comparable quality to ones made fresh from inksticks, and so are very popular among beginning learners.  

A bottle of prepared calligraphic (shodo) ink manufactured by the Japanese ink maker Kaimei (3)

Proceed to:  The Paper, or The Mounting or Return to: Introduction, The Brush, or top of this page

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