Ink cake with cyclical imagery


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Chinese ink is made by mixing animal glue with carbon, which is collected from burning resinous wood or vegetable oil. This mixture is molded into a variety of shapes, including rectangular tablets and round cakes. To produce liquid ink, the tablet is ground on an inkstone with water. Some ink cakes are further embellished with molded designs. Here, the disk has been decorated with the twelve zodiac animals and a Western-style clock face on one side and a poem in elegant calligraphy on the other.

Ink cake with cyclical imagery, Ink with gold, China

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