Kevina Lee

Preparing the ink

An important component of Chinese calligraphy is the ink -- and it isn't just any kind of ink. There is a special way to prepare this ink, and you can learn how to do that by following the steps in the video provided to the left.

Some more information about Chinese calligraphy ink can be found at Chinese Calligraphy Expo:

Chinese calligraphy ink can be traced back to the 12th century BC. Calligraphy glue and soot inks were found in archaeological excavations dating back to 256 BC.

Modern inksticks are made with soot, animal glue, incense or medicines, and sometimes preservatives. Soot is produced by burning oils such as tung oil, soybean oil, tea seed oil, or wood. Animal glue made from egg whites, fish skin, or ox hides is used to bind the ink into inksticks.

Incense and medicines such as ash, cloves, comfrey, oriental sweetgum, pearl dust, sappanwood, and white sandalwood are often added for their spiritual properties.

To make usable ink, calligraphists grind the inksticks against the inkstone. Once the ink from the stick has been ground into a fine powder, water is slowly added until the proper consistency is reached. The ink is then used immediately. Ink does not store well for very long. Because of this, pre-mixed ink should only be used to practice with. Pre-mixed ink tends to bleed when used on hanging art. Calligraphy ink from inksticks is always the preferred choice of Chinese calligraphists.

Now you know how to prepare the ink! Go on to choosing your brushes.