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NARRATOR:
This space is meant to represent a Chinese scholar's study – a place for learning, contemplation and communication. Scholars occupy an important place of respect in Chinese society. This desk features the tools they use in written communication and in the art of calligraphy—two intertwined pursuits.

For both types of work a scholar needs complete control over the density and texture of his ink, something that becomes evident in his finished product. On the desk you'll see the tools he uses to perfect his craft. They are known as the "Four Treasures of the Scholar's Study"—paper, brush, ink and inkstone. To create liquid ink, a scholar grinds the molded and ornate red and black cakes that you see near the front edge of the desk. He then drops small amounts of water into the well at the end of the inkstone until the mixture is just right. There's an example of an inkstone at the rear left. He selects the perfect-sized brush from the brush-pot and dips it into the well. The crystal brush washer keeps the brushes clean. And finished works are kept in the scroll holder on the floor.

Chinese writing and calligraphy can embody simplicity, emotion and evoke nature. They are imbued with the wisdom and traditions of more than two thousand years of Chinese intellectualism.

As a reminder of how well the ancient art has endured, take a look at the beautiful examples of Chinese brushwork on the walls nearby. They are all made by twentieth century artists.

Step27-Scholars Study, China includes desk, rug, chair, ink stone, brush pot and brushes


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