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China Scholar Study


Calligraphy created with writing brush Chinese scholars or learners are much too dainty about their study; especially emphasize their tools for creation. In a traditional scholar’s study, the visitors can usually see these things: Writing Brush, Ink-Stick, Ink-stone, Chinese paper, other than the large bookshelf and their large number of stored books. In general, their studies are decorated well in accordance with their original blueprint. Traditional scholars used to be the reclusive men due to their non-satisfaction with the real society. They were willing to stay in their ideal world, which can not be found in the real world. Hence study is also the excellent place for them to stay and keep happy. The outside of study is severe and unacceptable, but they have to find a place in pursuit of their ideal state; except study, nowhere is well. In this way we say study of theirs is the paradise of their soul and heart. Their study on behalf of their soul and dignity generally is extremely decorated at the cost of their all-out efforts. Scholars are high-hearted, so the common people can not easily come into their studies except their relatives and bosom friends and here is their own world to show their own personality.

Traditionally, in their study, writing brush, ink-stone, ink-stick and paper are the musts. Thanks to the traditional education, the scholars were closely connected with arts of China such as calligraphy, painting, seal carving. Roughly every scholar in ancient time was expert in one of them. Besides, the society and government also emphasized such talent or skill linked with study and education. For example in Tang dynasty, the candidates of national royal examinations were considered to be the passer to a most extent relying on their skills of calligraphy, that is why there are so many greatest calligraphers in Tang Dynasty, gradually tools concerned were considered to be the standards of scholars or learners to judge a person is elegant or not. Four treasures will be necessary in study, if only the man who wanted to be the well-educated one or scholar.

inkstone and inkstickAmong the various tools of calligraphy, writing brush is peculiar to China. The brushes are varied, and white goat's hair, black rabbit's hair and yellow weasel's hair are three major types. On the basis of the function of tip, the brushes are classified into three groups: "Hard", "Soft" and "Both". The handle is made of not only bamboo, wood, lacquer and porcelain, but also some precious materials including mother-of-pearl inlay, ivory and jade. Writing brush has such a long history that prehistoric painted pottery, inscriptions on oracle bones, bamboo slips and silks are all writing materials for brush. Some ancient writing brushes were also excavated in the graves of the Spring and Autumn Period, the Warring States, the Qin and Han Dynasties. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, Xuanzhou became the national writing-brush-producing center, whose products were called "Xuan-bi", and "Zhuge-bi" was the best in quality in Xuanzhou. After the Yuan Dynasty the brush-producing industry of Huzhou boomed, and "Hu-bi" replaced "Xuan-bi". The characteristics of "Hu-bi" were sharp, neat, round and tough.

The ink-stick is the unique pigment of Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy. At the initial stage natural ink or half-natural ink was generally used. It was during the Han that artificial ink appeared. At studythat time the most famous ink-stick was "Yumi-mo" produced at Qianyang, Shaanxi. The raw materials of ink-stick were pine, oil and lacquer. Before the Five Dynasties the ink-producing center was in the North, and then it reached the South. The most celebrated South ink-stick was "Hui-mo", which was produced in Huizhou of Anhui.

Paper ( the background of this page you are reading now is a kind of writing paper made in Qing Dynasty) is one of the most famous Chinese inventions. It is widely accepted that paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han. However the archaeologists have discovered paper of Western Han such as "Fang-ma-tan" paper, "Ba-quao" paper, "Xuan-quan" paper, "Ma-quan-wan" paper, "Ju-yan" paper and "Han-tan-po" paper. After the Eastern Jin Dynasty, paper was extensively used instead of traditional writing materials such as bamboo slips and silks. Various methods of producing paper emerged one after another. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, the paper producing industry was very thriving. Celebrated products in best quality appeared one after another. In the Qing "Xuan-zhi" produced in Jing Prefecture of Anhui (Xuanzhou), became the special paper for painting and calligraphy, and was regarded as "the king of the paper"

Inkstone is the most important of "four treasures of the study". Because of its solid texture inkstone can be handed down from ancient times. In the ruins of primitive society the archaeologists discovered simple stone ink-slab that needed a pestle to grind pigments. After artificial ink-sticks appeared in Han, pestle gradually disappeared. There were pottery ink-slab, lacquer ink-slab and copper ink-slab in the studyHan Dynasty as well as stone ink-slab. Among the stone ink-slabs, the round tripod pieces were the most typical. During the Wei, Jin and Northern-and-Southern Dynasties, round tripod porcelain ink-slabs were in vogue. It was in the Sui and Tang that "Piyong" inkstone having circular legs appeared. Ancient tools of calligraphy included not only brush, ink-stick, paper and inkstone, but also some accessories such as penholder, brush pot, ink box, paperweight, seal, and seal box. The raw materials of these tools were pottery, porcelain, copper, iron, lacquer, wood, bamboo, stone, jade, jadeite, agate and coral.

Chinese traditional scholars did the greatest contribution to establishment, development and glorification of China culture. They were the representatives of Chinese elite culture and well-refined culture. And four treasures are the most important tools and the symbols of Chinese culture. Today having four treasures in study is still the pursuit of many youth and tradition lovers. Excellently using four treasures to create the masterpiece of elite or scholars is also admired and respected by many people in China. However to create a piece of wonderful works with four treasures is a hard job, which need the learners worked hard for a long time, especially to be the good writing man of calligraphy, at least 10 years are needed. Four treasures in study is significant, the development of Chinese literature, painting, calligraphy and custom, even the succession of Chinese characters are both done partially via them.




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