Antique Chinese Porcelain collector's expert page, Ming, dynasty, Chinese porcelain marks

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Four Treasures, the scholars

The painter and calligrapher had four basic tools: brush, inkstick, inkstone and paper, all of which were manufactured with the utmost care. Brushes were made from animal hair graded into a sharp point and glued into bamboo or reed holders. Ink was derived from soot and animal glue, cooked, pounded, hardened and matured in often elaborately decorated moulds. This ink stick, lasting for years, was highly prized by artists and calligraphers, who ground it themselves with water on a jade or slate inkstone, while meditating on the work ahead. Paper, invented in China long before anywhere else, was used both as a ground and as a backing to works on silk.

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