Korean and Chinese scholars gave the name “the four precious things of the study” to tools such as brushes, ink stick, paper and ink stone for practical epicure. The name suggests that Korean and Chinese scholars did not simply recognize the writing instruments of the time as a practical tool for writing, but sometimes attached rather special meanings, such as taking a friend’s side and looking at some kind of emotion, or sometimes looking at the objects of appreciation by adding to the meaning of fancy decorations.
Ink stick, despite being an indispensable tool for epicure, may have been relatively unnoticed compared to brushes and ink stone because it has worn out in the process of ink.
Scholars from Korea and China not only consumed the ink stick, but also produced it themselves, exchanged it and showed off friendship, and owned and appreciated it for life as if it were a show of its image as an avid collector.
In this perception of Korean and Chinese scholars, ink stick is not simply a tool for writing sentences. Ink stick is a medium to confirm friendship with friends and to keep exchanges going. Ink stick also functions as a symbolic presence that adds to the authority of a king who dreams of an ideal country. Finally, ink stick also functions as an ethical tool to constantly remind people of their identity as a scholar.
A poem on ink sticks by Korean and Chinese scholars shows that ink sticks have not only been a tool for descriptive practice, but have also been reborn as objects rich in human spirit and value.