Craftsmen enjoy their brush with success

Updated: 2021- 09- 17

NANCHANG-Zhou Pengcheng, 76, has dedicated his life to the centuries-old intangible cultural heritage of making writing brushes.

Zhou, who hails from Wengang township in East China's Jiangxi province, has been engaged in this ancient handicraft for more than six decades.

Wengang's long-standing tryst with brush pens dates back to 1979.Over the decades, the town has grown into one of the country's biggest brush-pen markets, attracting tens of thousands of buyers from across China.

In Chinese culture, writing brushes are counted among the "four treasures of study", and Wengang is known as the "hometown of China's writing brush".

More than 400 brush-making enterprises and over 2,200 brush workshops are located in the township. And almost every family in the town makes their living through the brush manufacturing industry.

Zhou has been working in the sector since he was 8 years old, and his family has been engaged in this ancient craft for nine generations.

"In the 1970s, writing brushes made in Jiangxi were not so well recognized by people in China and the rest of the world, which spurred me on to improve and adjust brush-making techniques according to the needs of customers," says Zhou, adding that he finally succeeded after about eight years of hard work.

The craft of making writing brushes in Wengang involves 128 steps. The local brushes have proved popular in overseas markets, such as Asia, Europe, and the United States, and particularly in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

"I found calligraphy fascinating, especially the power and visual impact of Chinese calligraphy," says Alister Inglis, professor of Chinese language and literature at Simmons University. The foreign teacher takes an interest in how the shape, length and bristles of the brush reflect the type of written characters.

In June, Wengang's brush-making skills were listed as a national intangible cultural heritage, says Wu Shaoyun, Party chief of the town.

"Since the beginning of this year, we have mainly focused on how to transform the brush-making industry into a cultural industry. We have been working hard to improve the techniques and further inherit this craft," says Wu.

Currently, the town is eyeing a new boom in the digital era. It has launched tailored services to better meet customer needs in areas of culture, tourism and e-commerce.

Source: China Daily

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