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Chinese Literature
Mofa jiyao 墨法集要 "Collected Essentials of Ink-Making Methods"


The Mofa jiyao 墨法集要 "Collected Essentials of Ink-Making Methods" is a book on the production of ink written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Shen Jisun 沈繼孫, who lived in Suzhou 江蘇, Jiangsu, during the very early Ming. Not much is known about his life, but he is mentioned in a poem included in the painter Ni Zan's 倪瓚 collection Yunlin ji 雲林集. The short text Mofa jiyao is written by someone who personally mastered the technique of producing ink from the soot of excellent wood. The books also makes use of various older statements on ink production (the so-called mopu 墨譜 "notes on ink"), but Shen Jisun says in his preface that these were not sufficient to give an insight into the real manufacturing process. He herefore actively sought instruction in the art of ink-making and consulted masters from "among the three alleys" (sanqu moshi 三衢墨師) and obtained a "formula" (mojue 墨訣) from Buddhist monks. Equipped with this knowledge, he was able to produce ink by himself. The text is therefore very reliable. It is enriched by 21 commented illustrations that visually demonstrate each step of how ink was and is still made. The Mofa jiyao is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書 (as a reproduction of the text found in the Ming period encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典) and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1856.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

December 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail