Nara Sumi ink sticks are not just a tool for writing characters.
When you rub an ink stick, your mind finds a kind of calmness, and your concentration improves.
Calligraphy quiets the mind, a meditative action that can bring stability and stillness.
Until recent years, the practice of writing in Japan began by rubbing a hard ink stick in a small amount of water.
Rubbing small, soft circles over and over just to create a small amount of ink was considered part of the writing process, a moment to calm the mind before one dips their brush into the ink.
As the hand writes what the mind dictates, the characters on the paper are an expression of that unification of mind and body, both in meaning and style.
The mixture of soot and gelatin in traditional ink sticks determines its shade of color, the feel of the initial strokes, and how much the ink blots or cracks on the paper, all features which one can skillfully use to express the most in their writing.
Though many different kinds of Nara Sumi may appear to be black, they contain different ingredients, and when compared next to one another, they start to resemble shades of red or blue.
Bottled liquid ink has become more convenient and common in recent years.
However, the true price of this convenience are the nuanced lines, shades, blots, and cracks in a stroke that bring a new depth of expression.
Or it is the subtle shades of black on paper that whisper of the ink’s origins.
Or it is the calm mind and body that comes from calmly taking the time to rub the ink stick before picking up that brush.
This ancient art of Eastern culture is waiting for you.