Ink Brushes

Ink brushes (毛笔) are used in Chinese calligraphy. They are also used in Chinese painting and other brush painting styles. The brush was invented in China around 300 B.C. Together with the inkstone, inkstick and Xuan paper, these four writing implements form the Four Treasures of the Study.

The calligraphy brush, or wash brush (毛笔), is one of the four treasures of the Chinese scholar (and by extension the Chinese world: China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam). If they look alike, the brush to wash (or paint) and brush calligraphy differ, especially by the nature of the hair.

“Among the human instruments, there is one that stands out among the others as a symbol of art and beauty: it is the brush. It allows the man to communicate, to express his dreams and his thoughts. ”

In Europe, the watercolor brush, also called “moisturizer” or “brush with wash”, is quite close to the brush of calligraphy by its shape and preserves the same properties as certain brushes with wash. It is usually made up of squirrel hairs (a northern squirrel), which have very good water retention properties, or sometimes pony, less absorbent.

Calligraphy is a line art. The so-called main method of writing is how to create the ideal line (dot painting) pen method.
Press – press the pen to write, strokes on the rough, mention it fine. In the process of writing is constantly mentioning in order to produce different thickness lines.

To write a brush to take the word frame structure, two to practice a good stroke characteristics. Frame structure is more important than the point of drawing. Good frame between the characters, strokes are not prominent characteristics, but also pleasing to the eye; in turn, die.

Learning writing should start with regular script or official script. Have a good grasp of various styles and then learn other books have a foundation. Pro posts is a necessary tool to practice well.

Traditional painting:
Brush is not only a Chinese writing tool, but also a traditional Chinese painting tool.

Draw lines: In traditional painting, whether it is fine brushwork or freehand brushwork is basically sketched lines, in order to shape the physical structure.

Inking and Rendering: In traditional painting, ink brush with water brush and 皴, rub, dot, dye, etc. to describe the image.

Tune the colors and render: In traditional painting, using the brush to transfer color and color rendering, shade and other rendering techniques to describe the image

Brushwork: a type of Chinese painting techniques, the fine brushwork belongs to a class of painting method, such as the Song Dynasty body painting, Qiu Ying figures in the Ming Dynasty.

Freehand brushwork: that is, using simple brushwork depiction of scenery. Freehand painting and painting more in the living proclamation, penmanship, ink color flying, compared to the strokes to better reflect the charm of the scene depicted, but also more direct expression of the author’s feelings. With the center side forward to express forward.

The oldest brush found in Asia dates from the fourth century BC, but it is likely that it has been used for at least 500 years.

The handle is usually bamboo and its clump of goat hair. But today there are brushes in various other materials. The hairs must have for property a good absorption of the water and the ink, which is capital for the techniques of washing.

In everyday writing, ballpoint pens or felts have replaced brushes in these countries.

The four virtues of the brush:
According to tradition, the conditions necessary to have high quality brushes are as follows:

sen (尖): the end of the tuft is pointed.
sei (斉): when all the hairs are flattened, their ends are aligned. In the case of goat hair brushes, the more the end of the tuft is transparent, the better the quality.
in (円): each part (the tip, throat, belly, hips) soaked in water or ink, can be turned and returned without problem.
ken (健): the hairs are well balanced and respond perfectly to the movements given to them.

The bristles of the brushes are mainly animal hairs with three main types:

yángháo (羊毫): goat hair, relatively soft.
lángháo (狼毫): hair of Siberian polecats (huángshǔláng, 黄鼠狼, Mustela sibirica), relatively firm.
xuǎnháo (选 毫): weasel hair, firm in the center then a crown of goat hair for its flexibility.
In Japan, the brushes jûmô (柔 毛) are flexible, the brushes gômô (岡 毛) are in rigid bristles, and the brushes kengô (兼 毫) mix the two types of bristles.

We usually use goat hair, horse hair, tanuki (raccoon dog), weasel, marten, hare, squirrel, cat, deer … But also, more rarely, fox, monkey , buffalo … There are also brushes made from feathers (zh: 鸡毛, jī máo) giving a long and very sharp brush once wet or based on plant fibers.

We can usually find on the same animal hard hairs, and firm hairs.

There is a ritual according to which parents make a brush with the hair of their infant to send him wishes of happiness: these fine and flexible brushes are particularly appreciated by the calligraphers.

“So the brush called” the big white cloud “is made up of a third of marten, a third of goat, a third of wild cat. We also talked, but it’s more or less legendary, children’s hair, cat whiskers, rat, tiger … The ideal brush would be made “of male wild marten’s tail killed in autumn, by a night full moon, in the mountains of northern China “. ”

There are two types of brushes:

Brushes with gathered and hardened bristles (katame-fude, 固 め 筆, or mizu-fude, 水筆), which have rather weak hairs at the level of the hips, which makes it possible to use them only until the belly. They are rather intended for people of higher level.
Brushes with separate hairs (sabaki-fude, 捌 き 筆, sanmô-hitsu, 散 毛筆, or santaku-hitsu, 散 卓 筆).
Other brushes:

“Willow leaf-shaped brush”, ryûyô-hitsu (柳葉 筆). The bristles of these brushes can hold a lot of ink and are suitable for long strokes; the thickness of the lines is easily variable. This is the most common form.
“Brush in the shape of a sparrow’s head”, jakutô-hitsu (雀 頭 筆). This type of brush is for small print, its hairs are short and its hips flexible.
“Brush for the drawing of the face”, mensô-hitsu (面相 筆). Its hairs are very thin and the diameter of its base is only 2 to 4 mm, for a length of 2 to 3 cm. It is used in traditional painting, for the lines that require a lot of precision.
“Brush with hairs rolled around the heart”, engui-hitsu (延 喜 筆), shinmaki-fude (芯 巻 筆) or makishin-fude (巻 心 筆). This type of brush is suitable for calligraphy of sô-gana. His hair is very soft and easy to turn on paper.

Brushes can be classified into five categories according to the ratio of hair diameter and length:

“Very long hairs”, chô-chôhô (超長 鋒). The diameter of the base of the hairs is at least 6 times smaller than the size of the longest hairs.
“Long hairs”, chôhô (長 鋒). The ratio is 1 to 5 to 6.
These two categories of brushes have no very strong hips and require some control. They make it possible to make long, dynamic and varied plots.

“Hair of medium length”, chûhô (中鋒). The ratio is 1 to 3 to 4.
“Short hairs”, tanpô (短 鋒). The ratio is 1 to 2 to 3.
Beginners are advised to start with brushes from these last two categories.

“Very short hairs”, chô-tanpô (短 超 鋒). The ratio is 1 against 0.8 to 2. The jakutô-hitsu brushes belong to this category.
To calligraphy sutras, we use tanpô and chô-tanpô brushes.

In general, Japanese brushes have solid bellies so that the tip can trace effectively, while Chinese brushes usually have a more rounded and thicker tip. Most of the time, the Japanese brushes have 2 or 3 hairs longer in the middle of the tuft, they are the “hair of life”, inochi-ge (命 毛).

Most of the time, the handle of the brushes is made of bamboo, but one finds all sorts, going from the plastic to the ivory, and even the gold.

It is important to maintain your brushes well. When new, coated with glue, the tip should be washed in clear water. And after each use, gently wash the hair with clear, cold water and wipe gently; then let them dry upside down.

New brush to use:
Open the pen: first with the tip of the pen to brush the pen slowly rubbing open, then cut off the broken hair. Then put the brush soaked in warm water, generally soaked in warm water for 3 to 5 minutes like. You also need to be based on the material and size of the pen. Overall, not too long time can be. When the stylus, the brush needs to hang in the water or flat on the bottom of the container. Do not touch the pen touch other objects when immersed, so as not to pen deformation.

Molding pen: Molding pen is the most important process before writing. Do not directly pick up the pen dipped in ink to write. In this case, the effect of writing words is not the best. The correct way is to wet the pen with water before writing, then take out the pen to blot it dry with absorbent paper and then hang the pen. After about 7 to 10 minutes, with enough water to absorb, you are ready to write.

Into the ink: After the fountain pen, the water can be removed to good ink absorption. As the old saying goes, “The ink of the pen is one-third; it can not go deep into the weakness or the weakness.” The ink is as dry as it can be, and it can not operate freely. Therefore, when writing a regular script, one-quarter to one-third of the amount of fresh water should be exchanged with one-third to two-fifths of the amount of fresh water. The size of the book and the book.

Pen cover: When a new brush is opened, the pen cover can be thrown away, because after the pen brush cover, the pen cover will be destroyed. We can use newspaper to roll up or dry the brush.

Cleaning: The first to clean the brush, wash with the help of water when the pen to straighten out, pay attention when washing do not use soap, soap is alkaline, will go to oil, soap will wash after the pen More dry and crisp easier to break. Washing time to gently wash along the pen lightly pressed, the general wash a 3 to 5 minutes can be.

Brush maintenance:
Tu Long method, after writing to wash away the ink retention, then hairless, durable. Put on the cap after washing.
Su Dongpo method, the Coptis decoction, transferred to mercury powder, dip writing, waiting for the dry, the collection will not moth-eaten.
Huangshan Valley method to Chuan Chilli, decoction Decoction of pine smoke pen, the most appropriate collection.

Although the brush is a practical tool, but with the needs of social economy and culture, brush making and variety continue to increase, increase, process improvement, so that writing brush is increasingly perfect and exquisite, and gradually become a collection, appreciation of antiques and antiques. Brush is not easy to save, the slightest practical brittle, so brush appreciation can take shape from the pen, it is important to focus on decoration means strong, colorful, rich content on the barrel.