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Which brush should I choose?


WHICH BRUSH TO CHOOSE? _D04a07d8-9cd1-3239-9149-20813d6c673b_

中国 毛笔



There are many types of bristles in Chinese brushes, although you can distinguish 3 main categories corresponding to the hardness of the bristles.

The bristles are generally divided into 3 categories: hard, soft and medium.

Hard brushes are made of weasel hair. More unusual ones can be made of horse, buffalo, rat, rabbit or deer hair.

Soft brushes are mainly made of goat hair.

Mixed brushes are made of a mixture of soft and hard hair (e.g. goat and weasel).



Brushes sold in sets come in 3 basic sizes:

  • Small (小)

  • Medium (中)

  • Big (大)

Brush sizes are almost always engraved on the brush handle.

Chinese brushes  can have very unusual sizes - from very small brushes suitable for painting details to really large and long brushes often used to practice the so-called "street calligraphy"   where the artist calls Chinese characters on the pavement with water.



The handle is also important, the most typical and popular handle is made of bamboo. Bamboo is characterized by high durability and appropriate hardness, and therefore it has been successfully used in the production of brushes since ancient times. Bamboo brushes will surely serve us for many years. Brush handles can vary in thickness and length, which is typically adapted to the size and thickness of the bristles. On the brush handle we can also find useful information such as: brush size (bristles), company  or the region of origin of the brush, e.g. famous Hu brushes from Huzhou city or Xuan brushes from Xuanzhou city.

毛笔 四德


A good brush should have 4 characteristics, known in China as "4 virtues of a good brush" or 毛笔 四德 (máo bǐ sì dé):


Pointedness orjiān.

The bristles in the brush should be pointed and pointed. New brushes are usually appropriately pointed, with the passage of time the brush may lose its point and then it should be replaced with a new one.


Roundness or yuán.


The tip of the brush should be in the center of the brush, you should see a nice circle when looking down at the tip of the brush. A perfectly round brush will produce nicer, more proportionate strokes.


Equality i.e.  qí

Equality is also related to the roundness of the brush. When pressed on the surface (paper), the bristles in an even brush will be even, not twisted or strongly scattered.


Elasticity  czyli 健   jiàn

The brush tip should be springy and flexible. For this to be the case, the brush should be powerful and have the right amount of hair. A good spring brush should return to the initial state without any problems after the line is drawn. It is important that the brush is not too hard - if the brush is too hard, it will not be springy.

What brush for whom?

For beginners, the best option will be a goat bristle brush, it is the softest type of bristle that is very bouncy. It works well both in calligraphy and Chinese Xieyi painting. If you are wondering what size to choose, I recommend considering a set consisting of 3 brushes - then you will also be able to decide which size suits you best. More advanced amateurs of Chinese calligraphy will appreciate smaller brushes made of weasel hair - it is harder and therefore less bouncy - perfect for fine calligraphy.


Be sure to check out our section  PREMIUM , including brushes and accessories for professionals.

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