The four treasures of  Chinese calligraphy ——The brush

The four treasures of Chinese calligraphy ——The brush

Chinese calligraphy is a unique art with proper tools such as: brush pen (Chin. bĭ筆), ink (Chin. mò 墨), paper (Chin. zhĭ 紙), and ink stone (Chin. yàn 硯).

By legend, the Qin dynasty general Meng Tian (ca. 200 BCE) is believed to be the founder of the writing brush. However, science unearthed red and black brush strokes on the oracle bones from the time of Shang dynasty (1700. BCE–1100. BCE), and we learned how old usage of brushes exists. The oldest brush to be found dates back to the Warring States period (475–221 BCE), from the Hunan province.

For calligraphy, the brush has the most important role, and its techniques are known as brushwork. The most important about brush is its flexibility. The tuft is made of hair from different animals as hair for brushes. Depends on which animal hair is used, the season and from which animal part is taken, creates varying degrees of firmness and softness, as the quality of the brush.

Generally speaking soft-hair brushes are more difficult to control, therefore they are recommended not for beginners. They are used for writing large characters as they hold more ink. To write small characters usually is used weasel hair, as it's just a bit elastic, stiff and resilient and does not hold a large amount of ink.

Mixed hair is the most usable for several different tasks. Depend on the size, and variety of the characters to be written, we use different sizes of the brush. To make handle, mostly is used bamboo, it could be carved by written characters into the seal, but also can be applied different materials, such as: gold, silver, etc.

Nowadays the best brushes are considered to be “Hu brushes” (Chin. 湖筆Hú bıˇ), made in Huzhou of Zhejiang Province. New brushes are softly glued by tuft together to prevent damage during shipping. As a general rule, before using a new brush we must soak the tuft in lukewarm water for half an hour, and afterward rinse out the glue and gently loosen the bristles.

Special attention is to be made before writing. Be certain not to have loose hair, as will destroy the stroke perfection and appearance. When finish writing, it is mandatory to rinse out the ink under a cold tap.

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