The Four Treasures of Study
Calligraphy being an art, Chinese calligraphers ensure they use quality tools. There are four essential tools, which are called "The Four Treasures of Study". These are the brush, ink, ink stone, and paper.
|Brush, Ink Well, and Ink Stick|
Photo Credit: Theen Moy
We bought our supplies from a local art supply store, though I am itching to get a traditional Chinese calligraphy set.
|Photo Credit: Jennifer Pack|
|Jumbo Calligraphy Brushes|
Photo Credit: William Li
Brushes come in many different sizes, and are made from animal hair, such as goat and weasel, glued into a handle, which is typically made of bamboo. The different hairs used create different lines and feel different - for example goat hairs are soft and weasel hairs are stiff.
Chinese ink is made from the soot of pine branches, which is then mixed with glue and herbs, molded into a stick and dried. To use an ink stick, you rub it against an ink stone with a little water to make liquid ink.
Photo Credit: Conor
An ink stone is used to mix the ink with water. It is made from a slab of stone, with a small pool carved into it. They should have a rough texture to ensure proper grinding of the ink stick. Beautiful ink stones can be seen at this Flickr photostream.
|Photo Credit: Simen S.|
The fourth treasure is paper. Though called rice paper, Chinese paper is not made of rice, but generally made from the pith of a plant called the rice paper plant, of mulberry fibers or of bamboo. Different papers absorb the ink differently, giving the final calligraphy a different look.
Along with the four treasures, it is helpful to have a felt mat (which is placed under paper when writing), and a container to rinse the brushes. Traditional kits also have brush holders, paper weights, and a chop seal (something we'll be making ourselves in the next few weeks).