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What is this thing?

I can't even tell what it's made of. It's black, it has a cherry blossom bough embossed on it, and it smells like incense. I've had it for years but don't remember where it came from. I hope it's not illegal, because now you've seen it. It has a little paper wrapper. Any ideas?

Picture of What is this thing?
Mystery2.jpg
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kelseymh2 years ago
Looks like a block of calligraphy ink.
Dr. P (author)  kelseymh2 years ago
Well, I'll be darned. I licked it and drew with it! That's awfully fancy. Any clue what it says? (Probably "Calligraphy ink. Poison. Do not lick.")
bajablue Dr. P2 years ago
LOL
kelseymh Dr. P2 years ago
No, can't help you with the writing. I tried looking up the characters in my Chinese-English dictionary, but they're Old Style, and I got my dictionary in Beijing.

It's fancy because calligraphy is High Art, and an important part of culture. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calligraphy
Dr. P (author)  kelseymh2 years ago
Thanks so much for the information! Now, how about this? Anybody have any information about this creepy little thing? It's not a Mecki, and there's no tag. I think it's probably about 50 years old.
not a mecki.jpg
kelseymh Dr. P2 years ago
Gah. That's....disturbing. You probably want to put this up as a new forum topic (or even better, a "Question"). Good luck!
+1
mole19 months ago

Sniff it. If it smells good, it's the fancy stuff. If there's no smell it's probably student grade. You are supposed to grind into ink with water on an ink stone. It's the kind of ink used in sumi painting. It has some interesting properties when used with Western watercolors.

nancyjohns9 months ago

That's Japanese. China and japan share a character set called "kanji".

Yes it says Japan, but the writing looks Chinese to me though.. no clue :)
Eunix2 years ago
The writing is obviously Japanese.
kelseymh Eunix2 years ago
The case/wrapper obviously says "JAPAN" in Roman characters. However, Japanese Kanji writing (not the same as katakana or hirikana) uses characters adopted from Chinese, with a different pronunciation. In order to read what is written on the block and case, one needs to know Chinese characters.
Dr. P (author)  kelseymh2 years ago
Y'all just chat amongst yourselves. I'm still wondering if I swallowed poison when I licked it.
kelseymh Dr. P2 years ago
Are you still alive? Then I think the answer is "No." :-P

It's doubtful that it's particularly poisonous. The base for proper calligraphy ink is graphite powder (mineral) or soot, with animal glue (gelatin, essentially) as a binder.
Dr. P (author)  kelseymh2 years ago
Aren't you funny!
kelseymh Dr. P2 years ago
I like to think so. Most other people don't... ;->
Dr. P (author)  Eunix2 years ago
I had no idea.
ilpug2 years ago
Block of ink.
dmb3212 years ago
Chop ink
Dr. P (author)  dmb3212 years ago
I didn't even know such a thing existed. Thanks!
ChrysN2 years ago
Could it be just a box that held small incense sticks.
Dr. P (author)  ChrysN2 years ago
I've had it for ten years, not in a box, but I guess it could still smell like something else. I bought a glass flower at the first Atlanta pop festival in 1969, and it had an incense smell to it for years and years.