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Members of the Chinese literati, such as the Song Dynasty's Ouyang Xiu, contributed greatly to this new culture.
For serious calligraphers and painters, a good inkstone is as important as the quality of the ink.
In addition to stone, inkstones are also manufactured from clay, bronze, iron, and porcelain.The Qianlong Emperor had his own imperial collection of inkstones catalogued into a twenty-four chapter compendium entitled Xiqing yanpu (Hsi-ch'ing yen-p'u).Many of these inkstones are housed in the National Palace Museum collection in Taipei.Books and scholarship on the various inkstones of China existed chiefly in Japan, where a long bibliography on the subject exists.
Inkstones should be appreciated in the context of the traditional scholar's studio culture and the appreciation of furnishings, antiques, paper, seals and all other associated objects.
The inkstone, together with the ink brush, inkstick and Xuan paper, are the four writing implements traditionally known as the Four Treasures of the Study.