The writing brush -The Hu Writing Brush
Among the various calligraphic tools, the writing brush is special to China. It represents one of the four treasures of study, which also include paper, ink and ink stone.
The writing brush has a long history in China. Legend has it that the brush was invented by Meng Tian (? - 210 BC), a general under the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC), but primitive painted pottery contains decorative designs painted by tools resembling a brush. Clearly visible stains or brush marks remain in certain places on the pottery. This evidence suggests that the brush may have predated written language itself. The history of the Chinese brush can be traced back at least 6,000 years.
A brush comprises two parts: the head and shaft. The head is made of goat, wolf, rat or rabbit hair, which is softer than bamboo, a pencil, quill or ballpoint pen. The shaft is made of bamboo, wood, lacquer and porcelain, as well as some precious materials, including mother-of-pearl inlays, ivory and jade.
There are four types of famous writing brushes in China.
The Hu Writing Brush, produced in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province
The Huzhou writing brush falls into four categories. The first is made of goat hair, which is very flexible; the second, of brownish rabbit hair; the third, of stiff weasel hair; and the fourth is a mixture of goat and weasel hair, which is neither too flexible nor too stiff.
The workmanship of the brush is exquisite and complicated since it contains more than 120 processes -- from selecting materials to the finished products.
These brushes are especially handy both for painting and calligraphy. Due to its shaft, this type of brush is usually made of either red sandalwood or mottled bamboo, white porcelain or even with ivory. It is therefore regarded as the best-quality brush and the most exquisite handicraft.