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Hukaiwen Ink Factory

 

Ink is one of the items that collectively constitute the “Four Treasures of the Chinese Study”. It is common to see, in a Chinese drama featuring ancient people’s way of life, a black ink-stick being ground elegantly against an ink-stone (also one of the “Four Treasures”), mixed with a bit water, to produce ink.

Hukaiwen Ink Factory, China Time-Honored Brands

A set of four items that constitutes the "Four Treasures of the Chinese Study": paper, ink-stone, brush, and ink-stick (right-most).


The finest type of ink-sticks of China, called Hui Ink, is produced in Anhui Province, which also produces the finest paper for Chinese calligraphy and painting– Xuan paper. Hukaiwen Ink Factory is the oldest and most famous workshop that has survived and kept running till today. It opened business in 1782, and was to make a name with its products and services ever since. One of its products, “the Earth” Ink, was awarded golden prize at the 1915 Panama World Expo.


General Process of Producing Ink-Stick

The original building complex that housed the workshop still stands there in the city of Huangshan, and visitors are granted access to view the entire process of producing ink. Pine or oil is burned to generate soot that is collected by a bowl placed above the flame. Secret ingredients (highly confidential) are added to the soot to make a dough that is adequately kneaded to ensure all ingredients are fully and evenly combined. After that, the dough is put into a wooden mold and pressed to various shapes and sizes. Air-dried in a room, the ink-stick is then further molded, having certain designs inscribed onto its surface, before being boxed and sold.

 

Hukaiwen Ink Factory, China Time-Honored Brands

The first step of the entire process of producing ink-stick - burning pine or oil to generate soot.

 

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