ICCPS North America Branch

The Four Treasures

of the



The Four Treasures of the Study
The Four Treasures

 Sumi-e is inkwash brush painting originating from China over a thousand years ago, and embraced enthusiastically in Japan, Korea and now internationally. The name sumi-e literally means water+ink+painting 水墨畫.

Ink wash painting uses soot ink on thin mulberry bark paper or silk. Different tones and shades are achieved by varying the ink density and brush pressure. It is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul. Sumi-e is the timeless unison of the true self and the universe. It is the expression of the mind and spirit of the artist through the Four Treasures (文房四寶) .

Sumi-e and Calligraphy artists have the utmost respect for the Four Treasures:

    1. Brush (筆): The ink brush is usually made of goat, rabbit, or yellow weasel hair. The textures are soft, hard or mixed depending on the artist's use.

   2. Ink (墨) :  Ink sticks are made of soot mixed with animal glue, and sometimes aromatic or medicinal powders.

    3. Paper (紙) :  It is not just any kind of paper. It is thin mulberry bark paper (Xuan paper from China and Washi paper from Japan).  It is also generically called "rice paper" in the west though rice is not one of the ingredients.   It is highly absorbent and unforgiving.  The brushstrokes have to be fluid and fast, and mistakes cannot be masked like on watercolour paper. 

   4.  Inkstone (硯) : The inkstone is used for grinding the ink stick with water. The four famous inkstones are Duan, She, Tao and Chengni.

The North America Branch members of ICCPS respects and adheres to this practice and ancient tradition of 'The Four Treasures' while maintaining the individuality of their styles.



Kalpa MacLachlan of Holland