September 16, 2008

Tools of a Scribe

The “Four Treasures of a Calligrapher’s Study” are paper, ink, ink stone, and brushes. The first three are examined elsewhere in greater detail. Brushes used in making the Dunhuang manuscripts were of two main types: a hard brush made of deer hair in a wooden shaft, and a softer brush made of rabbit hair in a bamboo shaft (Fujieda, 1997). Brushes could also be made from weasel, fox, goat or wolf hair, and the very finest brush was said to be made from the hair of a newborn child (Bo, 2002, p.102). The brush was held upright, perpendicular to the paper, as this gave the greatest degree of control.

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