Bamboo Sumi Calligraphy Set

black-bamboo-calligraphy-setThe Japanese art of Sumi painting actually originated in China as calligraphy, as a form of painting that expresses powerful energy through an economy of brush strokes.  Sumi art communicates only the essence of a subject, rather than focusing on details, and very much embodies the influences of Zen Buddhism and Taoism.

A philosophy of “less is more” is what makes Sumi paintings so uniquely inspired.  Never overworked, a Sumi painting illustrates the grace of movement through very clear forms that transform the emptiness of space.

Sumi artists normally grind their own ink with an ink stick applied to a grinding stone, and while prepared inks are available, most Sumi connoisseurs prefer the ink stick method for works that will be displayed.  The grinding process allows the artist to use different concentrations of ink in various parts of a painting, giving their work more texture and form. 

Sumi brushes are the same ones used for calligraphy, and are traditionally crafted from bamboo, with goat, horse, ox or wolf hair bristles.  Brush hairs are tapered to a very fine point, a vital feature of Sumi ink painting.  Sumi brush strokes are named after four plants commonly found in Japan; the Bamboo stroke, Chrysanthemum stroke, Wild Orchid stroke and Plum Branch stroke.

A complete Sumi Calligraphy set includes four small brushes, a brush rest, a Sumi ink stick and grinding stone, a soapstone seal and a red ink used for sealing.  A set like the one shown here is enclosed in a fan-shaped silk bamboo box, and makes a great gift for yourself, or that expressive person in your life!

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