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Four Treasure of the Study

Four Treasure of the Study

In the old days, one needs paper, ink stick, Chinese brush and ink stone to write or paint. They are called "Four Treasure of the Study".

There are a great number of varieties of them, and the best well-known ones are paper of Xuancheng, ink stick of Huizhou, Chinese brush of Huzhou and ink stone of Duanxi.

The best paper used for writing or painting with a Chinese brush is called Xuan paper since it was produced in a place near Xuancheng in Anhui province. Being high quality paper, it was used as a tribute to the emperor early in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Xuan paper is white, smooth, refined, even, soft, resilient and absorbent. As soon as the ink touches the paper it quickly seeps in, which can best present the characteristics of Chinese calligraphy and painting. As Xuan paper can be preserved for a long time without decay of change of color, and is insect proof, many ancient calligraphic works and traditional Chinese paintings have been preserved intact for several hundred years or even a thousand years.

Ink Stick
Chinese calligraphers and artists paid particular attention to the quality of ink stick. The best ink stick is produced in Huizhou, Anhui province. It was first produced in Tang Dynasty more than a thousand years ago. Some Chinese medicine and perfume or even gold flakes are mixed into the materials in order to make better ink stick. Ink made by such a stick is particularly black with some fragrance. Ink sticks made in Huizhou can still be used after scores of years.

Chinese Brush
The production and use of Chinese brush can be dated back serveral thousand years. A Chinese brush is made primarily of hairs from a beast and a small bamboo pipe. It takes 70 processing methods to make a good Chinese brush. Tens of thousands of hairs of a sheep, rabbit or weasel have to be chosen one by one and bound together to make the brush. The best well-known Chinese brush is manufactured in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, which produces more than 200 types.

Ink Stone
Ink stone is used for grinding ink stick in order to make ink. Ink stone has a history of 3,000 years in China. Ink stones produced in Duanxi, Shexian county, Taobe River and Henan, Hebei and Shanxi provinces - Chengni ink stone, are the best well-known types. Ink produced on a ink stone of Duanxi takes less time to prepare and will not easily dry up. In ancient times, ink stone of Duanxi was not only a precious artistic object but also a tribute to emperor.

Paper, ink stick, Chinese brush and ink stone have played very important roles in development of traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting.

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