Showing posts with label pincel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pincel. Show all posts

04 May 2013

Bokujû (墨汁)

This is an interesting ink. A puzzling one.

The label does say this ink is for fountain pens, but should it not be clear enough, there is also an obvious figure of a fountain pen. A Pilot, of course. The metal ring attached to the string is a common feature among old Japanese inkwells, but I confess my ignorance about its purpose.

We, pen aficionados, are very aware of the dangers of using inks not specifically designed for fountain pens. India ink, for instance, contains shellac –a bioadhesive that would easily clog the ink feed of any fountain pen.

In East Asia the basic reference of ink is different. Sumi ink (墨) is traditionally made of vegetable soot and animal glue. It is presented in the form of sticks, and to make the actual ink these sticks have to be ground against a stone (suzuri, 硯) in combination with water. The ink, now called bokujû (墨汁), is formed by the suspension of the powder removed from the ink stick in the water. This is the ink used in traditional calligraphy, shodô (書道) in Japanese, whose basic instrument is the brush instead of the stylus.

The inscription on the lid reads Special ink Pilot 特製墨汁パイロット. On the center, the company logo.

Nothing can I say about whether the use of this ink was a long time goal of Japanese pen companies. As of today, Platinum’s Carbon ink and Sailor’s Kiwa-guro simulate the idea of bokujû—particles in suspension in water. Pilot´s approach is just limited to the name of one the inks of the Iroshizuku line: Take-sumi (竹炭), although in this case, sumi is written as 炭, meaning coal, instead of 墨, ink. Both ideograms can be read in the same way—sumi (すみ).

Then, what about this old inkwell? The label clearly (well, sort of) says it contained bokujû—that is, the already prepared ink after grinding the ink stick—and that it is for fountain pens. On the back, the manufacturer, Namiki Seisakusho, explains that only after developing some procedures, which involved filtration, it was safe to use bokujû in fountain pens.

The explanations to justify the uniqueness of the ink.

Was it? Hard to say. However, a more relevant question is whether this was a real carbon ink, a precedent of the modern nanopigmented inks made by Sailor and Platinum. Interestingly enough, Pilot does not produce any such ink right now.

This ink dates back from the 1920s, and chemical analysis are in order. But few people might really care.

My thanks to Mr. Yamada, who also wrote on this ink for his blog, including a couple of samples on paper.

Pilot Capless, stub nib (Shimizu Seisakusho) – Waterman Mysterious Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, May 4th, 2013
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Japón, caligrafía, pincel

08 May 2010


The writing tradition in East Asia does not rely on the stylus —on the pen— but on the brush. This is most evident in the art form of calligraphy in China, Korea and Japan. This calligraphy, so different from the Western penmanship, acquires a quasi-religious meaning in Japan in the form of shodō —書道.

The name of this discipline involves the term –道: path, way; showing the constant struggle for perfection. Budō (武道), bushidō, (武士道), kadō (華道), sadō (茶道) … All of them imply that journey in search of excellence. Much in the mystic mode of Teresa of Ávila and her The Way of Perfection (Camino de perfección).

Religious superstitions aside, what we finally get is a form of art with a brush. And it is easy to get some samples of it in Japan. In most temples —Buddhist— and shrines —Shinto— you can find a monk in charge of these stamps to certify the passing through that station in the pilgrimage route.

These certificates are called goshuin –御朱印. Usually, they are a combination of a stamp and some writing. Sometimes they are great, impressive, amazing. The monk mastered his art and showed it. Some other times, the writing is plain and boring —anyone could write those. But such is life.

Buy the goshuin notebook (goshuin-chô, 御主印帳) in any stationery shop —check my May 2, 2010 entry— or at the temple itself, and ask for the stamp. Boring or exciting, the final collection will speak of your own .

(Sailor WG Pocket Pen – Pelikan Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Fuchu, April 7th 2010)
[labels: Japón, pincel]