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Calligraphy Brushes

Cultural Signifigance

In China Calligraphy is a fine art which surpasses painting, sculpture, ceramics, poetry. Its importance deeply rooted in Chinese history and culture. In its distinctive Chinese form, calligraphy offers an important channel for the appreciation of traditional culture and for arts education. It is also a source of pride and pleasure for the Chinese people and embodies important aspects of the country's intellectual and artistic heritage. 

Historically Scholar-officials were the elite class of imperial China. They were highly educated, especially in literature and the arts, including Calligraphy and Confucian texts. For a millennia they dominated the government administration and local life of China. 

Chinoiserie Chic Style, Blue and White Porcelain Jar with Calligraphy Brushes

Calligraphy became a very important subject, and matter of talent, from a very early age, students would start learning Calligraphy and Confucianism. The Imperial examination was a civil-service examination system, administered for the purpose of selecting candidates for the state bureaucracy. The concept of choosing bureaucrats by merit rather than by birth started early in Chinese history, by using written examinations as a tool of selection. Traditionally in China, learning skills, handwriting mastery, and an official post were hand to hand combination. Most of China’s rulers were masters of calligraphy, with outstanding talents and calligraphy creations

The system lasted for almost a millennium until 1905 when the civil service examinations were abolished. Calligraphy is still performed in China by people of all ages and backgrounds. A person’s handwriting skills are a sign of a proper education, self-discipline and it is also thought someone's personality, character and mentality. Therefore, excellent handwriting gives satisfaction and is a sign of respect. In contemporary China, calligraphy is more than a hobby, it still influences every aspect of modern life. 

Chinese Scholars Objects, Chinese Calligraphy

The Four Treasures of the Scholar 

Known as the four jewels of the study are Brush, Ink, Paper, Inkstone. The individual treasures have a "treasured" form, each being produced in certain areas of China as a specialty for those scholars who would use them. Classical scholars had more than just the Four treasures in their studies. The other "Treasures" include the brush-holder (笔架), brush-hanger (笔挂), paperweights (镇纸), the brush-rinsing pot (笔洗), and the seal (圖章) and seal-ink (印泥).

The brush is the oldest Four Treasures member, with archaeological evidence dating to Zhou dynasty (1045 BC–256 BC). In the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) the writing brush entered a new stage of development. Which created the decorative craft of engraving and inlaying. Brushes were made from animal hair, or —in certain situations—the first hair taken from a baby's head (said to bring good luck in the Imperial examinations). 

In calligraphy, the brush has the most important role. The tuft is made of hair from different animals as hair for brushes.  Which animal hair is used, the season and from which animal part is taken, creates varying degrees of firmness and softness. Brushes are classed as soft (軟毫), mixed (兼毫) or hard (硬毫). Hair is laboriously sorted by softness, hardness, thickness, & length, then bundled for specific uses. Each type of hair has a specific ink capacity, giving distinct brush strokes. Different brushes are used for different styles of calligraphy and writing. The most famous and highly prized brushes are a mix of yellow weasel, goat and rabbit hair, known as Húbǐ (湖筆); highly prized since the Ming dynasty late 14th century. Brush handles were commonly constructed from bamboo, but special brushes may have handles of sandalwood, jade, carved bone/ivory, or other precious materials.

Before China witnessed the usage of hard pens and pencils, the brush was the only writing tool. Brush writing was a skill every educated man had to master. 

The Four Treasures  or The four jewels of the study: Brush, Ink, Paper, Inkstone.". The individual treasures have a "treasured" form, each being produced in certain areas of China as a specialty for those scholars who would use them. Classical scholars had more than just the Four treasures in their studies. The other "Treasures" include the brush-holder (笔架), brush-hanger (笔挂), paperweights (镇纸), the brush-rinsing pot (笔洗), and the seal (圖章) and seal-ink (印泥).

In calligraphy, the brush has the most important role, and its techniques are known as brushwork. The most important aspect of the brush is its flexibility. Brushes are made from animal hair classed as soft (軟毫), mixed (兼毫) or hard (硬毫). Hair is laboriously sorted by softness, hardness, thickness, & length, then bundled for specific uses. Each type of hair has a specific ink capacity, giving distinct brush strokes. Different brushes are also used for different styles of calligraphy and writing.  Depending on which animal hair is used, the season and from which animal part it's taken, creates varying degrees of firmness and softness, which determines the quality of the brush.The most famous and highly prized brushes are a mix of yellow weasel, goat and rabbit hair; highly prized since the Ming dynasty late 14th century. Another strange tradition was the first hair taken from a human baby's head was thought to bring good luck in the Imperial examinations. 

The brush is the oldest Four Treasures member, with archaeological evidence dating to Zhou dynasty (1045 BC–256 BC) illustrations on ancient bones. In the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) the writing brush entered a new stage of development . It created the decoration craft of engraving and inlaying on the pen-holder. Brush handles were commonly constructed from bamboo, but special brushes may have handles of sandalwood, jade, carved bone/ivory, or other precious materials.

Calligraphy is still performed in China by people of all ages and backgrounds. A person’s handwriting skills are a sign of a proper education, self-discipline and it is also thought someone's personality, character and mentality. Therefore, excellent handwriting gives satisfaction and is a sign of respect. In contemporary China, calligraphy is more than a hobby, it is a way of life.

Luxe Curations has a gorgeous collection of Calligraphy Brushes available in our store. Shop these one of a kind pieces today!