Four Treasures of the Study (文房四宝 wén fáng sì bǎo) is an expression used to refer to the ink brush, inkstick, paper and inkstone used in Chinese calligraphy and painting. The name stems from the time of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD). Brushes and ink are two of the legendary “Four Treasures of the Study” tools of Chinese calligraphers, painters and poets over thousands of years. The other vital elements of culture are the rice paper (zhi), and the inkstone (yan) for grinding the solidified inksticks.
笔 （bǐ ）BRUSH
In numerous pen products, the Chinese brush can be regarded as the most special one.
Traditional Chinese brush not only is the ancients’ essential tools, but also have different fascination in expressing the special charm of Chinese calligraphy and painting. We often use the rabbit hair, sheep hair and combination hair, which are the most important ones.
The rabbit hair is tough, resilient and short, it can be used to write small words. The sheep hair is soft, weak and long, it can be used to write big words.
The combination hair is made of hard hair and soft hair.
The inkstick is the necessary in ancient writing. Chinese calligraphy and painting’s wonderful artistic conception can be carried out by this unique material. Before the artificial inkstick was invented, people used the naturalinkstick as the writing material. The artificial inkstick appeared in Han Dynasty and was made of pine wood.
The good inkstick is strong and tough, has black bright color and light fragrant flavor.
When we use the inkstick, we should add in clear water gradually, mill slowly and keep in the box after use.
The paper was one of the four great inventions of ancient China, and it contributed to the cultural transmission a lot. Before the paper was invented, people used turtle shells and animal bones, bronze, bamboo, silk and stone as the materials to write. Paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Dynasty of Han. The rice paper has become the most valuable writing paper.
The good paper should have compact quality, pure white color and is not too rough or smooth.
When we use the paper, we should make it flat, clean and fixed.
The inkstone originated in Shang Dynasty. There are pottery inkstone, brick inkstone and jade inkstone. The most famous inkstone are the Duan inkstone and the She inkstone. The Duan inkstone is produced in Duan state Guangdong province. The white is best, the purple is worst. The Duan inkstone is best used to write big words. The She inkstone is as famous as the Duan inkstone, which is produced in the She state Anhui province. The She inkstone is best used to write smll words.
When we use the inkstone, we should keep water, scrub after using and mill lightly.