The first treasure- the ink
The brush and ink are seen as inseparable as they are always used together, and together they are an integral part of a scholar’s work. Ink is treated with the utmost respect as a work if art cannot be created without it. It is said that it is easier to obtain gold than good ink. Ever since the Tang Dynasty, ink has been developed and each dynasty has its own famous ink makers. Due to the variety and quality of ink developed over the ages; its manufacture became an art form. Ink sticks are even seen as collectibles by scholars.
Types of ink
Oil soot gives a warm black colour. When manufactured, oil soot is combined with more glue than other types, making it more towards a general purpose ink.
Pine soot - Pine soot ink is coloured a cooler shade of blue black because it is made with less glue and oil. It is suitable for calligraphy and detailed paintings.
Industrial charcoal soot ink has the least about of oil and glue. It has a watery consistency which makes it well suited for free hand calligraphy.
There are no fixed rules for which ink to use for which works, but with experience you will discover the different effects that can be obtained.
Some artists commission ink to be made specially with qualities to their own preferences. There are inks that are made specifically only for collection, with ornate packaging and appearance. Some ink sticks are made coloured for specific purposes such as red ink to write calligraphy of official decrees. There are also non-poisonous inks that have medicinal purposes and are supposed to be digested as medicine but can be used for calligraphy as well,
When choosing an ink, it should meet the following criteria: solid as a stone, textured like rhino horn and as black ans lacquer. The ink should have a purple-blue sheen. Modern manufactured liquid ink can be found in various qualities, however all good quality inks when dried should not spread when the paper is damp for mounting, and the ink should retain freshness for eternity.