Remember the intro of Disney’s Mulan? Clouds and mountains appeared as if drawn by an invisible hand and we automatically connected these animations with China. Few images are more Chinese in our imagination than their famous black and elegant calligraphy.
Calligraphy remains one of the most important of the Chinese arts. In Chinese history, the art of writing was even prized above any other form of art for thousands of years!
The importance of calligraphy writing shows how important words are in Chinese culture. To learn how to write Chinese is incredibly difficult as there are no phonetic systems or alphabets. You need to learn at least 3000 characters to be able to read a newspaper!
However, the meaning of Chinese characters are not bound by phonetic sounds or semantics: a single character can carry the meaning of a word, but also a feeling and natural energy by the composition of the brushstrokes. The way a character is written can say a lot about the calligraphy artist and their emotions at the time of writing! A Chinese poem is considered more beautiful and powerful when written in calligraphy because the emotions of the writer go beyond words!
So how can a character convey all these emotions and dynamics? For the past 1500 years, the Chinese scholar and calligrapher had on his writing desk the Four Treasures of the Study. These were a brush, paper, ink and an ink stone, the essentials of East Asian calligraphy.
The Chinese invented ink brushes around 300 B.C, and probably even earlier than that! Brushes are often made of bamboo and animal hair. A very special brush is made of the hair of a newborn child! These brushes are said to give you amazing grades on exams, but are actually made as souvenirs for the children themselves.
Chinese calligraphy can be powerful art and decoration in Western interiors (if you know the meaning of the characters!). But many people also like to decorate with the instruments of calligraphy: the brushes and ink stones!
Brushes are found in many forms, shapes and colours which makes them perfect for all kinds of interiors: the handles can be made of coloured stone, carved bone or bamboo or even goat and deer horns! Pair them with other decorations, like pots and bi-discs for a great ensemble on top of a cabinet or dressoir! For the people who are in need for cleaning supplies: brushes can make decorative dusters too!
Ink stones are still very decorative stones! But you can give them a bit more functionality in your home: why not use them as soap holders?
What other ideas do you have for brushes and ink stones your interior?
- May 05, 2017
- Margret Ressang