Calligraphy Brush Anatomy

There are two major brush making methods. One results in a type of brush we can commonly buy today, and the other so called in Japanese maki fude (巻き筆. lit. “wrapped brush”). The main difference is that the hairs of maki fude are strengthened with special hemp paper wrapping. Maki fude was popular in Japan until 17th century when a scholar Hosoi Kotaku (細井広沢1658 – 1735) has introduced a new brush type which is used till modern era. Today, maki fude are utilized mostly during Shinto religion ceremonies.

Brush making – arranging and choosing hairs for the brush tuft. Umpeifude workshop (雲平筆), Japan.

The most vital part of the brush is its very tip – known as “hairs of life” (1-命毛, inochioge). “Throat” (2-, nodo) is a place where ink is being soaked inside the brush. It is achieved thanks to different hairs length; long on the outside, then shorter layer and a longer one. It forms a space known as “stomach” (4-, hara) that holds the ink. “Shoulders” (3-, kata) support the “stomach” and assist with ink releasing. The “loins” (5-, koshi) plays a crucial role as well, if not flexible and strong enough the whole brush will lose its vitality and responsiveness.

Anatomy of the brush diagram

The hairs are mounted inside the ferrule (6-軸先, jikusaki) that is fixed on the brush handle (7-筆管, hikkan). The opposite side of the brush to the tuft consists of “tail bone” (8-尻骨, shiribone) and a hanger (9-掛け紐, kakehimo).

Contiune to Calligraphy Brush Handling

Back to Choosing a Calligraphy Brush

Back to Calligraphy Brush

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