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Writing Brush

Among all the pen productions, writing brush(ink brush,毛笔máo bǐ) is kind of unique writing tool made in China mainly. It is titled the most ancient one among Four Treasures of Chinese Study and is used both in Chinese calligraphy and Chinese painting for showing the distinctive enchantment of the quintessence of Chinese culture. However, it’s hard to keep writing brushes due to the damageable shortcoming, therefore, ancient writing brushes passed down to this day are really rarities.

 Writing brushes

Chinese writing brush
is invented in China and the so-called inventor is General Meng Tian in Qin Dynasty who also is a supervisor of the Great Wall.People in the hometown of writing brush---Hengshui, still celebrate the invention of ink brush every year. In successive dynasties, writing brushes also have different names. For example, Bai juyi named "Haozhui"when speaking of writing brushes.
History of Chinese Writing Brush
The origin of Chinese writing brush can be traced back to Neolithic period. A 5000-year-old tomb belonging to Jiangzhai Village was excavated in Shanxi Lintong in 1980 and cultural relics like ink stone and pestle were found there. From the decorative patterns on the pottery cup, archaeologists said that writing brush or some pens like brush existed at that time. Moreover, pictograph of “笔” had already appeared in the inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty. The earliest entity of writing brush by far was found in a Chu tomb located in Changsha, Hunan. From the making techniques and distributed regions, writing brushes were used widely in Warring States period but without a general name. So it might not be correct about the saying that Mengtian invented writing brushes.
Han Dynasty brought a new chance for improving writing brush. The decoration process was firstly practiced on the stalks, such as lettering and frosting; besides, monographs on writing brushes appeared, for instance, Bifu wrote by Cai Yong sparkled in the history of writing brushes. In the court, in order to be efficient to propose suggestions to the Emperor, officers always sharpened the tail of writing brushes and inserted them as hair clasps.
In the history of China, there were three centers for making writing brushes: Hengshui, Xuancheng and Huzhou. But, now, besides these three cities, painting brushes produced in Shanghai,Suzhou,Beijing and Chengdu are also very famous. However, the most famous ones will be Hubi and Houbi.
How to choose a good Chinese brush as a gift?


Writing brushes can be divided into two parts: head and stalk. Materials for the head part of writing brushes includes goat hair (羊毫), yellow weasel hair (黄鼠毫), black rabbit hair (紫毫), pig hair, mouse mustache, hairs of buffalo’s tail, and while exotic ones can be made from tiger, fowl, deer and even human hair (from the first haircut a baby gets, said to bring good fortune while taking the Imperial examinations). According to the hairs texture, Chinese brushes can be divided into the one with soft hairs(软豪), mixed hairs(兼毫)and hard hairs(硬豪).Stalks of Chinese brushes usually are made of normal and special bamboo or wood, but exotic brushes instead might use valuable materials like ivory, unicorn horns, hawksbill, jade, crystal, gold, silver and porcelain.  

A good writing brush must be provided with four advantages: pointed tip, even brush hairs, round brush belly and flexible hairs.


pointed tip

even brush hairs

round brush belly

flexible hairs






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