Family Calligraphy Tools

japanese calligraphy toolsThe first time we went to Japan together, Naoto told his mom that I’d taken an art class and was introduced to sumi-e painting. Sumi-e is “ink wash painting” using only black ink and simple brush strokes. The goal is to interpret an object with the fewest strokes possible. For example, you wouldn’t draw a cat and include all of its fur and whiskers and stripes and claws. You would convey the feeling of the cat, maybe its shape and its curiosity (perked ears for example). When I first learned about sumi-e, I was really excited. I am terrible at drawing, so I thought it would be easy to do these simple line paintings of things… Oh no…not easy at all. “Capturing the essence” is majorly difficult and controlling the brush to get variations in the depth color in the black ink is frustratingly challenging. But it’s fun to try…

Back to my mother-in-law…when Naoto told her about my sumi-e painting, she went into her closet and brought out the supplies pictured above. Her sister had been a calligraphy teacher and she left all of her calligraphy tools in her care. Sumi-e and calligraphy use similar tools and so Naoto’s mom gave them to me. I feel honored and humbled to have these tools in my possession…I know I will never be able to use them to their potential, but again, I can try…

The basic calligraphy tools are known as the “four treasures” (paper, inkstone, ink and brush). For the rest of the week, I will be sharing more about these tools and what makes them so special.

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5 thoughts on “Family Calligraphy Tools

  1. cath says:

    This is going to be wonderful and like a private lesson by you. Such a wonderful chance to learn more about calligraphy and ‘four treasures’. Do you also know why they are called this?

    • kimberly ah says:

      Thanks, Cath! I’m not exactly sure why they are called the “four treasures”, only that those are the four things you must have to do the calligraphy. I am going to ask for more details when we go to Japan. Naoto has signed me up for a mini calligraphy lesson for my birthday! 🙂

  2. […] first and most important of the “four treasures” of calligraphy is the brush. The brush is an extension of the calligrapher. It is said that […]

  3. […] third treasure is ink. Traditionally, ink is ground from an ink stick before each calligraphy session. The stick […]

  4. […] last of the four treasures is the ink stone. Handmade from slate, ink stones are smooth, very heavy and made to last […]

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