Chapter I The Brush Pen
Section I   The Origin of the Brush Pen
Brush pen (ëin Chinese that reads máo b) is China’s unique tool of writing and painting. The earliest brush pen can be traced back to 2,000 years. No real brush pen used in prior Western Zhou periods has been found, but there are traces of it being used on oracle inscriptions of Shang Dynasty and patterns on colored pottery of prehistoric periods. There are enough witness for usage of brush pen in the Eastern Zhou period on bamboo and wooden slips. Now, brush pen of the Spring and Autumn period, Warring States period, Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty and Western Jin period has been found. The picture below shows a Warring States pen, its shaft was made of copper and its brush was made of plant fibre.


                                       A carbon-14 test shows it is over 2,200 years old. The one on the right was excavated in1954 from a Warring State tomb in Changsha of Hunan. It was in a bamboo case, the shaft was made of bamboo as well, its brush tip used rabbit hair. Aside from rabbit, weasel and sheep hair are also the material for making brush pen tips.


Section II   Kinds of Mao Bi
1.   Classified according to place of origin such as Xuan Bi (produced in Xuanzhou), Hu Bi (produced in Huzhou), Jing Bi (produced in Beijing) and Xiang Bi (produced in Hunan).
2.   Classified accroding to hair material such as rabbit hair, different colors of sheep hair, wolf tail hair, tiger hair and so on.
3.   Classified according to the material of the shaft such as bamboo, various kinds of wood, ivory, jade, gold and so on.
4.   Classified according to the hardness of the hair, whether it is hard, soft or neutral.
5.   Classified according to the length of the writing tip, whether it is long, short or neutral.
Discrimination of ancient Mao Bi: To determine when it was made and further its value, we have to see whether it was made by the imperial court or civilian shops, or ordered by the imperial court from civilian shops; then we have to look at the hair and lastly on the shaft, whether there is inscription on it, if so, by whom. You should be farmiliar with the preserved ones, you should also be acquainted with descriptions of various kinds of Mao Bi in ancient books, you have to have accumulated enough knowledge of calligraphers and ancient literature to determine who is the inscriber.
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