Approximately 5000 years ago, an ink for blacking the raised surfaces of pictures and texts carved in stone was developed in China. This early ink was a mixture of soot from pine smoke, lamp oil, and gelatin from animal skins and musk. Other early cultures also developed many colors of ink from available berries, plants and minerals.
The India ink used in ancient India since at least the 4th century BC was called masi, which was an admixture of several chemical components. Indian documents written in Kharosthi with ink have been unearthed in Chinese Turkestan. The practice of writing with ink and a sharp pointed needle was common in early South India. Several Jain sutras in India were compiled in ink. In India, the carbon black from which India ink is produced is obtained by burning bones, tar, pitch, and other substances.