Invented in China around 300 B.C.E, the bamboo brush was originally intended solely for traditional calligraphy and ink painting styles. When grouped together with the inkstone, inkstick, and xuan paper, these implements form what’s called the “Four Treasures of the Study,” a name used to denote the tools necessary to create ink works. The brush is the oldest member of the “Four Treasures” grouping, and the oldest brush-painted artifacts are painted bones that date back to the Zhou dynasty. Bamboo brush bristles are generally made from animal hair, and brushes used during the Imperial examinations were said to be made with a strand of baby hair in order to bring good luck. Modern bamboo brushes are mainly made from white goat hair, black rabbit hair, yellow weasel hair, or a combination of the three. Over the years, bamboo brushes have become increasingly popular for general watercolor use as well as traditional ink and calligraphy painting. Bamboo brushes come in many different brush-tip sizes and set combinations. Whether you’re in the market for a single unit product or a full set, we’ve got you covered. Browse our roundup of the best bamboo brush options below.
1. Winsor & Newton Series 150 Bamboo Short Handle Brush
Well balanced from end to end, this handsome brush features extra-long brown hairs that are suitable for ink, calligraphy, and watercolor painting styles. Because of their length, you can create fluid and dynamic strokes. The natural bristles offer excellent retention capacity and come to a fine point when wet. You can use the brush to create wet washes, smoothly blended colors, and even dry-brush effects. The brush experiences minimal bristle loss thanks to the secure plastic ferrule, and the bamboo handle makes for a lightweight hold. Each is sold separately, but you can choose from nearly a dozen sizes.
2. UE STORE Professional Chinese Art Brush Set
If you’re in the market for a multi-brush set, go with this option. Including a variety of eight brushes in a range of sizes, you can choose from the finest-tipped tool to a thick round-pointed brush. Each brush shaft is decorated with Chinese characters and features a leather thong at the end that allows you to hang them for drying or display purposes. As an added bonus, this set comes complete with a bamboo roll-up case with fabric pockets that allow you to securely store and carry your tools.
3. Corciosy Chinese Calligraphy Brush Set
Educators looking for a fully stocked set at a reasonable price would do well to choose this product. Including everything but the ink, this option comes not only with a set of nine traditional round-tipped, pointed brushes in a variety of sizes but also includes an extra-large brush, a brush rest, and a roll-up bamboo case. Each brush is designed with a lightweight bamboo shaft and is made with natural bristles from weasel to wolf to goat hair.
4. Easyou Hu Chinese Brush for Calligraphy and Sumi-e Drawing
This high-quality single-unit brush features a bamboo shaft that’s decorated with Chinese characters and has a convenient loop at the end. The brush tip itself is made of pure goat hair that well holds a point and spreads easily. Equipped with a brush stand, it’s easy to keep this authentic Hu brush in good condition.
5. Yasutomo Bamboo Calligraphy Brushes
If you’re looking to dabble in dry-brush techniques, this stiff-bristled brush is a smart choice. The coarse bristles, which are made of assorted natural hairs, keep a sharp point and lay down a crisp line but remain supple for expressive shading and coloring. The bamboo shaft makes for a comfortable, strain-free grip. You can also use it for watercolor work, as the bristles hold paint and water well and keep their form so you can produce long lines and maintain crisp edges. A loop at the base lets you hang the brush up to dry once cleaned.