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An inkstone is literally a stone mortar for the grinding and containment of ink. Traditional Chinese ink was usually solidified into sticks for easier transport and preservation. Even a small amount of water could be applied to the end of a stick of ink, and that end would be ground with the flat surface of the ink stone. A larger quantity of ink could be ground from a small pool of water placed on the inkstone. Water could be stored in a water-holding cavity on the inkstone itself, as was the case for many Song Dynasty (960-1279) inkstones. The water-holding cavity or water reservoir in time became an ink reservoir for later inkstones. Water was usually kept in a ceramic container and sprinkled on the inkstone.
The inkstone, together with the ink brush, ink (stick) and paper, are the four writing implements traditionally known as the Four Treasures of the Study.
For serious calligraphers and painters, a good inkstone is as important as the quality of the ink. An inkstone will affect the quality and texture of the ink that is ground upon it. Four kinds of inkstones are especially noted in inkstone art history and are popularly known as the "Four Famous Inkstones." The most famous ink stone is Duan ink stone from Duanxi. - www.wikipedia.org
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