Xu Laosan the Chinese brush making master

Xu Laosan the Chinese brush making master


Master Xu’s Chinese Brush Making The Xu’s family has inherited and developed the long Chinese brush making tradition. He is the fourth generation master of this craft family. They have lived in the Pukou District of Nanjing in the north of Yangtze River. Xu’s Chinese brush is featured by the mixture of wolf and goat hairs. High quality of pure hair are used with exquisite craftsmanship. Their brushes are made with even and smooth body, and sharply pointed tips. Chinese brush making has a long history as an art itself. Guan Jun(president of national Chinese calligraphy society) Brush making is not only a hand craft, it also require brain work. The technical part is easy to master but what’s outside the skill is difficult to learn. Many brush maker maybe rather skillful and famous, but they are not as detailed as Mr Xu. We hope more and more younger people like him to transmit this great tradition of Chinese culture. Zhou Jingxin(Dean of Chinese Painting Academy, Jiangsu Province) His brush has both the flexibility of goat hair and moisture holding capability, and the spring and resiliency of the wolf hair. So I have been using his brush in many of my artworks in the past few years. Chinese brush took shape in the neolithic times. Throughout the several thousands years till the modern era, it has been the main writing tool carrying the Chinese cultural heritage. Xu’s family follows the great tradition ofChinese brush making. From material selection to finishing, there are more than 80 steps in the process. Main steps are: 1) Selecting the hairs, which include weasel hair, goat hair, rabbit hair and horse hair, hog hair and ox hair. 2)Mixing hair, which is the most important step in Xu’s brush making procedure. Through bombing, cutting, and aligning methods, compose and arrange different animal airs into different parts of the brush. There are different ways of cutting the hairs according to the specific needs. 3)The main brush making process includes a)making the brush heads, with various hair materials and tools like water basin and strings; b)making the brush handles with bamboo, wood, and horns; c)connecting brush head and handle and inscribe the brush name. The characteristics of Xu’s brush are well-pointed, flexible but not too soft, resilient but not too stiff, with great fluidity and endurance. Pointed, even, rounded and spring, they embrace all four criterions of the best Chinese brush. The opined tip is required to write or paint sensitive strokes. Even hair means that there is no gap when write or paint thicker lines. Rounded means the shape of brush is like the pit of a date. brush strokes are responsive with ease. Spring refers to the elestic wait of brush. When lifting the brush after pressing, it will bounce back to the original shape. Master Xu was born in a brush making family and he has learned how to make Chinese Brush when he was a child. He is not only skillful but also has his own philosophy in brush making. He has been specialized in specialty brush making commissioned by mafous Chinese painting and calligraphy artists. and received wide positive feedback. Due to the complexity of brush making process, and the use of computers, writing tools has changed completely. Chinese brush making industry is disappearing. In order to rescue this ancient craft, Master Xu has registered a company with his trade name Xu Laosan. Now all his family members are involved in making the brushes. Also, he has employed five apprentices to pass this special skill to them. He is working hard to write down all his know-how that he has learned from his ancestors with mission that this family tradition will continue to develop generation after generation.

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