bunbou shihou 文房四宝
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also bunbou shigan 文房四玩, bunbou shiyuu 文房四友, and bunbou shikou 文房四候. Lit. the four treasures of the Chinese scholar's study. Painting and calligraphy instruments that include:
1) the brush fude 筆, originating in China in the 3rd -2nd millennium BC; 2) ink *sumi 墨, made of a mixture of lampblack and glue; 3) inkstone *suzuri 硯, commonly made of stone, clay tile, jade, ceramic or precious metals, and used for grinding ink; 4) paper kami 紙, invented in China in the 1c AD, became favored over silk because of its variety of texture and low cost. Papermaking techniques were transmitted to Japan in the 8c. See *washi 和紙.
Great care was taken in the production of these four tools which reached the height of their refinement in China in the 10-11c. The quality of each of the four treasures was of utmost importance to the literates who chose his tools with loving care. The connection that developed between the scholar and his accouterments led the ancients to claim that the true character of the author was revealed in his brush strokes.


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