|China's Ancient Papermaking Tradition Preserved
About 1,800 years ago, during the Eastern Han Dynasty(25-220), Cai Lun improved China's papermaking technique using bark and hemp. This then became one of the four great ancient inventions of China.
Four Types of Famous Writing Brush in China
The writhing brush produced in Huzhou, ink stick from Huizhou in Anhui Province, ink stone from Duanxi, Gaoyao country in Guangdong Province, and xuan paper, are regarded as the "four treasures of the study" in China.
Writings on Silk(Boshu)
From sometime in the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.) and over a long period of time in ancient China, plain silk of various descriptions joined bamboo and wood slips as the material for writing or painting on. Silk had advantages over the slips in that it was much lighter and could be cut in desired shapes and sizes and folded, the better to be kept and carried. But owing to its much greater cost, silk was never so popularly used as the slips.
Calligraphy is understood in China as the art of writing a good hand with the brush or the study of the rules and techniques of this art. As such it is peculiar to China and the few countries influenced by ancient Chinese culture.
Traditional Chinese Painting
An important part of the country's cultural heritage, the traditional Chinese painting is distinguished from Western art in that it is executed on xuan paper (or silk) with the Chinese brush, Chinese ink and mineral and vegetable pigments.
These refer to the scripts carved by the ancients of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th to 11th century B. C.) on tortoise shells and ox scapulas (shoulder blades), which are considered to be the earliest written language of China.
The origin of the Chinese script
There have been various stories about the origin of the Chinese script, with nearly all ancient writers attributing it to a man named Cangjie.
The Four Treasures of The Study
Among 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.
Seal-cutting is traditionally listed along with painting, calligraphy and poetry as one of the "four arts" expected of the accomplished scholar and a unique part of the Chinese cultural heritage. A seal stamp in red is not only the signature on a work of calligraphy or painting but an indispensable touch to liven it up.