The Story Behind Expensive Japanese Brushes

Calligraphy is a respected genre of art in Japan that people have been practicing for centuries. There are different Calligraphy brushes available out there that a master Calligrapher can choose from. But the most expensive of them is the brushes handmade and custom-made by the finest Artisans in Japan. They cost over a thousand dollars. In this blog, we will give you a glimpse into why they are so expensive when compared to other Calligraphy brushes.


These expensive Japanese brushes are handmade and custom-made by the Artisan for a Master calligrapher. The steps involved in the production process are pretty long and intense, and the more time an Artisan consumes making the brushes, the better they will turn out to be. To begin with, they acquire hair from rare wild male goats. The hair from the chin area to the chest of the goat is stripped and left for the aging process for purification. This adds flexibility and durability to the hair. The quality provided by this kind of hair cannot be replicated. However, not all the hairs obtained from the wild goats can be used to make the brushes. They lack uniformity and come with differences as some may be glossy, and some may not possess the desired hair-tip or shape. Step one in the making of the brushes is sorting the highest-quality hairs from the raw hairs. This is a hard task, as the slightest differences are to be analyzed and this has to be conducted on a sunny morning and in natural light. For this, one needs a sharp pair of eyes as well as ultra-sensitive touch along with many years of experience. The Artisan then spends months in the process of transforming the hair into the brush tip, until he reaches perfection.


The selected hairs are then classified into five groups according to their lengths to further calculate the amount of hair to be used. This stage will help the craftsperson to select the hairs that meet the required standards of quality. In this process, the damaged hairs and those that do not meet the standards are rejected. The craftsman uses a small knife-shaped tool called hansasi for this process. The hairs are then wrapped with a linen cloth and bound with linen thread and later soaked in water. The hairs are then boiled to remove the excess fat, after which the hairs are dried thoroughly. The fluff on the hair roots is then removed by continuously combing them with a steel comb. Once the hair is dried, baked rice husk ash is sprinkled on the hair and placed on a Hinoshi table. This is done to straighten the hair, and also to get the oil melted with heat. Once the oil is melted, the hair is wrapped in deerskin in a hot condition and kneaded to remove the oil. In this process, the tips of the hair are aligned to remove unwanted hairs, and for this, the bunch of hair is combed continuously. A metal plate is then tapped with a piece of cherry wood to align the tips. This requires highly refined skills and the process should be done continuously for better alignment. The hair is then moved to a square-shaped metal to align the tips again. Hairs with damaged tips are removed using a bladeless small knife. The hair is then mixed and soaked in water, and further combed and refined. This makes the bundle of hair look flat. The same portion of hairs from the bundles are blended together and are mixed continuously using water to increase durability and density. This process is repeated dozens of times. After this, the unnecessary hairs are sifted and rejected. The core of the brush is then made by adjusting the shape and removing unwanted hair. The Artisan then wraps the outside of the dried core with a sheet of thin and shiny hairs. The root of the bundle is tied with a linen thread and the tail is burnt with a heated iron. A small knife is then inserted inside the shaft which is then rotated to shave it accordingly. The adhesive is then applied and the hair bundle is inserted. The hair is then made firm according to the type of brush required. Every single step involved in this process is to be followed flawlessly and meticulously. One small careless mistake will deprive the brush of its perfection, forcing the Artisan to discard the brush. 


From the process mentioned above, it is pretty evident that the time and effort required to make these brushes are massive, which justifies the making cost of these brushes. Every brush is mindfully made with much precision and care. The Artisans do not compromise on the quality of even a single brush but put their heart and soul into their making. They cannot be replicated as each brush is meticulously handmade to ensure quality and durability. The handmade Calligraphy brushes by Japanese artisans are unique, and this is exactly why they remain to be the most expensive yet worthy brushes that any Calligrapher would crave to get their hands on.

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