Saturday, October 1, 2016

Carpe Diem #1070 pen and inkstone

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Our 4th anniversary month has started with a wonderful photo and wonderful responses on the photo. So I think this really will become a celebration month. As you (maybe) have read in the prompt-list all the regular prompts this month are tools used for all kinds of arts and ways of creativity. Today I have a nice one for you pen and inkstone and these are the classical tools writers in Japan used as did Matsuo Basho for example.

Let me tell you a little bit more about pen and inkstone, maybe I had titled this episode "the four treasures of the study", because next to the pen and inkstone, they used an inkstick and paper, and instead of "pen" I could have used "brush", but that prompt is coming later this month.

Inksticks (Sumi) or Ink Cakes are a type of solid ink (India ink) used traditionally in several East Asian cultures for calligraphy and brush painting. Inksticks are made mainly of soot and animal glue, sometimes with incense or medicinal scents added. To make ink from the inkstick, it has to be continuously ground against an inkstone (suzuri) with a small quantity of water to produce a dark liquid which is then applied with an ink brush. Artists and calligraphists may vary the thickness of the resulting ink according to their preferences by reducing or increasing the intensity and time of ink grinding.
Inkstick (Sumi)

Traditional East Asian ink is solidified into inksticks. Usually, some water is applied onto the inkstone (by means of a dropper to control the amount of water) before the bottom end of the inkstick is placed on the grinding surface and then gradually ground to produce the ink. More water is gradually added during the grinding process to increase the amount of ink produced, the excess flowing down into the reservoir of the inkstone where it will not evaporate as quickly as on the flat grinding surface, until enough ink has been produced for the purpose in question. The Chinese grind their ink in a circular motion with the end flat on the surface whilst the Japanese push one edge of the end of the inkstick back and forth.

Water can be stored in a water-holding cavity on the inkstone itself, as was the case for many Song Dynasty (960-1279) inkstones. The water-holding cavity or water reservoir in time became an ink reservoir on later inkstones. Water was usually kept in a ceramic container and sprinkled on the inkstone. The inkstone, together with the ink brush, inkstick and Xuan paper, are the four writing implements traditionally known as the Four Treasures of the Study.
As I mentioned above in the time of Basho the inkstick was used commonly, and in our times we see this "inkstick" in the Sumi-E art.
suzuri ka to hirou ya kuboki ishi no tsuyu
Saigyo's inkstone?
I pick it up – dew
on the concave rock
© Matsuo Basho, trans. Barnhill
A nice episode I think, I enjoyed creating it.
pen and inkstone
the only things needed on this
uninhabited Island
© Chèvrefeuille
And now it is up to you ... have fun!
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 6th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, our first CD Special by Kala Ramesh. later on


  1. Fascinating post, so interesting. Such careful thought and work going into writing a haiku - and haiga. A real craft, not like nowadays. And certainly of great meditative value.
    Chèvrefeuille, your haiku makes a stunning statement about art and the value of living.

  2. Enjoyed this post, Chevrefeuille :)

  3. Carpe Diem Challenge # 1070 Pen and Inkstone:

    beloved teacher
    learning the kanji
    for joy