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Chinese Cultural Studies Center
編號: VIII - 225
Inscribed list: National List, Fourth Batch
Inventory no.: VIII - 225
Nominating unit(s): Beijing, Xicheng District
Established in 1865 and thus having a history of more than 150 years, Yidege (一得閣) is the first brand to produce mozhi墨汁 (prepared Chinese ink). Yidege ink is known for it’s reliability, being stable, having the right consistency, and an inky fragrance. Qigong, a famous calligraphy from the early 20th century, once remarked, “with ink that is made by Yidege, who wouldn’t praise your calligraphy?”
Xie Song-dai (謝松岱), the founder of Yidege, was born in Hunan. He experimented to develop a prepared ink during the reign of Tongzhi in the Qing dynasty, as he felt that the process of using an ink stink to grind ink was inconvenient and time-consuming, especially during examination time, cutting into the time that could be spent answering questions. After numerous trials and countless failures, he eventually succeeded, marking a revolution in the process of calligraphy and painting. Xie started his business of ink production in Liulichang, Beijing. In front of the shop hung a couplet, which said「一藝足供天下用，得法多自古人書」. The name “Yide” (一得) came from the first characters of this couplet. Yidege ink quickly became popular because of its convenience and quality. The process of ink production was recorded in Nan Xue Zhi Mo Zhaji (南學制墨札記). Xu Jie-bin (徐潔濱), Xie’s disciple, managed Yidege after Xie’s death. He not only registered the trademark of Yidege, but also expanded the scale of business to Tianjin, Shanghai, and Zhengzhou. In 1956, Yidege became a joint public-private operation, and established a factory in Beijing. In 2004 after incorporation the company reformed its name to “Beijing Yidege Ink Industrial Co., Ltd.”.
There are two main types of ink produced by Yidege: oil soot ink and pine soot ink. The former is made from the soot of burning seeds or lard; the latter from the soot of burning pine. Oil soot ink is bright and warm in colour, and various in texture that it can be used in both calligraphy and painting. Pine soot ink is dark and matte, and is most suitable for drawing fine details such as hair, and writing small characters and gongbi style painting.
At the New Year festival or when recruiting disciples, a ritual of offering incense will be conducted, first to the sages of ink and then to the shopkeeper. The so-called “sages of ink” are Su Dong-po (蘇東坡a politician and one of the great calligraphers of the Song Dynasty) who advised the method of collecting soot, Chao Ji-yi (晁季一, the writer of Mo Jing《墨經》and master of ink production in the Song dynasty who inspired the process of glue production of ink, and Shen Ji-sun (沈繼孫) who wrote the illustrated book of ink production Mo Fa Ji Yao 《墨法集要》in the Ming Dynasty.
After the business reformation of Yidege, modernized management, research and development and promotion were adopted, and the company successfully expanded to Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. However, after management was passed to Sun Wan-xin (宋萬新) in 2010, Yidege faced risks in being suspected of using low quality materials in ink production, and the old ink masters felt brushed aside, who then started another ink factory of their own. Such factors greatly damaged the reputation of Yidege and the inheritance of the technique. In addition, the market was saturated with fake Yidege ink, also making it harder to regain the trust of customers. Things seemed to turn around in 2016 when Yidege was able to invite the ink master Yun Zhi-qiang (尹志強) to return, who reintroduced the proper and traditional methods of ink making. In 2017, held a forum and invited calligraphers and painters to attend, inviting them to try the new ink, and to discuss the product.
Since the technique of ink-production was not revealed to outsiders, and the production process is smelly and dirty, young people are not willing to take part in learning the process. Recognizing the danger that the transmission of skills was in, in 2016 three masters of Yidege—Yun Zhi-qiang, Zhang Chang-lin, and He Ping—held a ceremony for taking in nine new disciples as the fourth generation of inheritor of Yidege ink technique. Furthermore, with the support of the Ministry of Education who is actively promoting the teaching of calligraphy in schools, Yidege is involved in going to schools and organizing calligraphy-related activities, with the opportunity to also introduce how ink is made.
Since 2014, the item of Yidege Ink technique has been included in the fourth batch of the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, as nominated by Xicheng district in Beijing.
更多相關資料 MORE INFORMATION:
“This is Beijing: The Theory of Black—Yidege”(這裡是北京：守望——一得閣的「厚黑學」), one episode of the documentary series “This is Beijing”, which is introducing the story and ink technique of Yidege, with interviews of Xu Xiao-feng (徐小鳳), one of the inheritors of Yidege Ink Technique and Wang Ze-min (王澤民), the deputy technical manager, produced and broadcasted by Beijing Television in 2015.