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india ink[′in·dē·ə ′iŋk]
a black pigment that, unlike many others, does not fade with time; when greatly diluted with water it has a gray shade. It is used for sketching and drawing with pen and brush and for shading, inking in, and washing.
In ancient times, india ink was the favorite material for writing, drawing, and painting in China; from there it spread to Korea, Japan, and, in the 15th to 17th centuries, Europe. It was made from the soot obtained by burning softwoods, vegetable oils, and resins. Lampblack, and soot made by burning oil and its products, have also been used in the 20th century. In addition to liquid india ink there are also solid cakes, which are ground to powder and mixed with water before use. Analogous colored pigments made from coal-tar dyes are also called india ink.