Ancient Chinese Used Hard Writing Tools

The decorative patterns and symbols on Chinese pottery crafted during prehistoric times were made with hard writing tools instead of the long, soft brushes, a Chinese archaeologist has said.

The primitive hard writing tools were made of bamboo, wood, animal bones and horns, clods of soil and black lead, said Li Zhengyu, a researcher with the China Dunhuang Studies Institute in northwest China's Gansu Province.

Although soft brushes had been the major writing and drawing tools throughout Chinese history, hard tools were the earliest " pens" of ancient Chinese, Li said.

On the pottery of the Neolithic age, 10,000 to 4,000 years ago, the earliest artists drew the outline of designs with hard, sharp tools.

Colored pictures appeared on the pottery in a later period. However, the colored areas contained many thin scratches, and no trace of brush use was evident, Li said.

During the late period of the Neolithic age, ancient artists did use bird feathers or rabbit tails to paint large areas. But these were not the major drawing tools at that time, Li said.

The indoor ground paintings, dating back more than 5,000 years ago, found at the Dadiwan relic site in Qin'an County, Gansu, were made of black charcoal, which was quite similar to today's pencil, Li added.

(People’s Daily 03/09/2001)