The first known inks were made by the Chinese and date back to the 23rd century B.C. They used natural plant dyes and minerals such as graphite ground with water and applied with an ink brush. Early Chinese inks similar to the modern inkstick have been found dating to about 256 B.C. They were produced from soot, usually produced by burning pine wood, mixed with animal glue. To make ink from an inkstick, the stick is continuously ground against an inkstone with a small quantity of water to produce a dark liquid which is then applied with an ink brush.
India ink (or Indian ink in British English) is a black ink once widely used for writing and printing andnow more commonly used for drawing. The technique of making it probably came from China. India ink has been in use in India since at least the 4th century B.C., where it was called masi. In India, the black color of the ink came from bone char, tar, pitch and other substances.
The ancient Romans had a black writing ink they called Atramentum librarium. Its name came from the Latin word atrare, which meant to make something black. It was usually made, like India ink, from soot, although one variety called atrementum elaphantinum was made by burning the ivory of elephants.
The gall -nut is a small round tumor which grows on oak and other varieties of trees. They are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of gall wasp. They were used for making fine black writing ink. Iron gall ink, also known as iron gall nut ink or oak gall ink, was a purple-black or brown-black ink made from iron salts and tannic acids from the gall-nut. When written or drawn with it was black but with time the ink turned brown. It was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe from about the 12th century to the 19th century and remained in use well into the 20th century.