Invented in China around 300 BCE, 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
From trusted heritage art supplies brand Winsor and Newton comes this high-quality bamboo brush. A great tool for creating wet washes, smoothly blended colors, and dry brush effects, you can use this brush for ink, calligraphy, and watercolor painting styles. The brush experiences minimal bristle loss thanks to the secure plastic ferrule, and the bamboo handle makes for a lightweight hold.
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 good choice. The coarse bristles keep a sharp point and lay down a crisp line, and the bamboo shaft makes for a comfortable strain-free grip. The small tip size is perfect for detail painting, and the bristles hold paint and water well.