The Brush - Fude - Crafted from the Finest Natural Materials


Japanese brushes, among the most sensitive of artistic instruments, come from a long and refined tradition. Chosen for beautiful surface texture and shape, the handles of the brushes are made from bamboo stalks. The bristles are crafted from combinations of up to 10 different types of the finest hair of wild animals. Only the most highly skilled craftsmen are trained in the art of mixing and blending the hairs. Sumi-e brushes are distinguished from their counterparts in Calligraphy and in Western art by the variety of animal hair and the care in which these hairs are placed in the bamboo handles. A Master Sumi-e brush maker decides what hairs to select for a brush. The artisan considers many factors including the season the hair was cut, the hair's location on the animal's body, and the place where it was raised. Each distinctive type of hair responds to and absorbs sumi ink in a different way. The distinctive characteristics of deer, horse, badger, wolf, or rabbit hair can each impart something unique to a stroke.

Structure of the Brush

A Sumi-e brush's deceptively simple profile from hip to tip belies the balanced and elegant structure within. The inner core of the brush is made from stiffer, more resilient hair, while the peripheral layers are formed from softer, finer hair. Especially delicate hairs are reserved for the tip.

Brush as Gestural Instrument

Capable of the most complex range of expressions and gestures, the Sumi-e brush has many parallels with a fine musical instrument. The rich overtones that emanate from an acoustic musical instrument made of natural materials vary greatly from those from a plastic or electric instrument made of artificial materials. Similarly an unmatched vibrancy comes from the Sumi-e brush--crafted from the finest natural living materials of the earth.

Entrusted with a brush that performs at the highest level, the Sumi-e artist is attuned to the range of possibilities of this instrument. Responsive to the greatest subtlety of movements, the brush comes alive in the Sumi-e artist's hands.