Material of chinese calligraphy

The material of chinese calligraphy is The Four Treasures of Study. It is the brush, the paper, the ink and the ink stone.

1- Chinese calligraphy Brushes

Chinese calligraphy Brushes

The Chinese calligraphy uses a huge variety of brushes. Contrary to what some may think, the choice depends not on a style of calligraphy that we want to practice, but on the frame of mind of the calligrapher: taste, strength, flexibility or stiffness in the wrist and arm, and so on.

Here are the three most commonly used models already presented in the Material of the Chinese painting:

  1. Brush with hairs of goat: YangHao.
  2. Brush with hairs of wolf: LangHao.
  3. Brush with hairs of goat and wolf: JianHao. Constituted of an external crown of flexible goat hairs with an interior end of hard wolf hairs, it combines the quality of the two preceding brushes.

Warning: The new brushes are stiffened by an adhesive to protect the end. It is then necessary to dissolve this adhesive with tepid water to make the hairs find their flexibility.

Before using the brush, it should a little be wet before soaking it with ink. Then slightly taps the brush on the inkpot or the saucers to remove the surplus. You should not charge or empty the brush by turning it: it would deform the end.

2-The paper

The paper of chinese calligraphy

To practice Chinese calligraphy we use a relatively coarse paper called Maobianzhi. It is made with herbs. It is a yellowish colour. Its low cost makes us able to practice a lot without spend to much money.

For a beautiful calligraphy we take the same paper used for Chinese painting: this is the rice paper called Zhi Xuan. There are two kinds:

  1. The absorbent paper(Shengxuan), is the most commonly used.
  2. The non-absorbent paper: Shu Xuan, also known as Fan Xuan is much less used.

3- The ink

The ink of chinese calligraphy

Traditionally, the ink is in the form of molded sticks. The legend attached to his invention Xing Yi 800 BC. It is composed of black smoke and a mixture of glue and herbal substances. The black smoke produced by the combustion of different material (spruce wood or several kinds of oil) is used to produce varied qualities of inks.

This ink stick is rubbed on an ink stone with a little water. The more you rub the more thick the ink becomes. Then we can also add more water to obtain the various shades of density found in calligraphy.

Now we use the liquid ink contained in small cans. It is sufficiently dense to be diluted and thus obtain the various shades. We must not despise this type of ink for being non-traditional. It is very good and its practicality earned her preference from the majority of calligraphers.

4- Ink Stone

The ink stone of chinese calligraphy

Slightly rough, it is on it that we dilute the ink stick with water. The most commonly used are carved in stone but archaeological excavations have uncovered the ancient ink stone in jade, lacquer, metal (bronze, silver or iron) or porcelain.

By itself, the ink stone of the calligraphy is very precious art object. But you do not need to pay a fortune to buy a good quality. However, it is preferable that it be fitted with a lid to prevent the ink from drying.

After each practice, the ink stone should be properly washed with running water only. We must also leave a little water in the reservoir to preserve moisture in the stone.