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.
A set of four items that constitutes the "Four Treasures of the Chinese Study": paper, ink-stone, brush, and ink-stick (right-most).
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.
The first step of the entire process of producing ink-stick - burning pine or oil to generate soot.
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