Tools & Materials

When Chinese Zen Buddhist monks first came to Japan, they brought with them many meditation disciplines. One was the practice of calligraphy writing and sumi-e. For painting or calligraphy, the monks used what were referred to as “The Four Treasures,” which were held in deep reverence.

Ink

You can grind your own ink using an ink stick and ink stone. Ink sticks are made from pine soot or oil soot, bound together with glue and incense. Pine-soot ink sticks create a warm brown-black ink that’s great for landscapes; oil-soot ink sticks produce a cooler, blue-black ink preferable for calligraphy.

Bottled ink is very concentrated. Many professional Asian-style artists ...

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