Before the eve of the Spring Festival in 2022, two international students,Wang Li from Tajikistan and Si Jia from Russia, went to Cherry Hutong, Xicheng District, Beijing,the home of Hu Chengming, who is an inheritor of handmade brush.There is no hustle and bustle of the city in the hutong, leaving only the memory of the old Beijing city. With the sunrise and the sound of hawking, the international students entered Hu Chengming’s home. It’s not a big place, but it’s full of culture, with various tools for making brushes on his workbench. Through the conversation with Hu Chengming, the international students learned that it is not easy to make a brush by hand. The craftsmanship of an ordinary brush is extremely rigorous, and there is a saying that “one hair picked out of ten thousand hairs”. After continuous selection, sorting and polishing, it can be completed.
When it comes to the origin of the brush, Hu Chengming’s father is his guide. The old man used to work as an apprentice in Tianjin to make brushes. After his father retired, Hu Chengming took over to make brushes and it has been for more than 40 years. Now Hu Chengming has retired, but he still keeps on making brushes at home. According to Hu Chengming, he does not make money in this business, but he likes it. Since he has done it, he must persevere to the end. At present, he and his wife live comfortably. The only regret is that there are not many apprentices, and it is a question of who will inherit in the future.
Sijia and Wang Li experienced the process of making brushes during the activity: pulling the raccoon tail, filing the brush handle, etc. They also used a brush to write Chinese characters. The seemingly simple four characters “Great Fortune in the Year of the Tiger” were practiced many times by the two international students, just to send their calligraphy to Hu Chengming as a gift for the coming Year of the Tiger.
In this experience, the international students not only learned the process of brushmaking, but also deeply realized the ingenuity of Hu Chengming. One of the international students recalled,”Today’s experience once again made me feel the greatness of China. Through a simple writing tool, I can see that Chinese people are meticulous in everything. I also gained a lot of fun in the process. I hope that through my recommendation to my friends, more people will fall in love with brushes and this art in the future.”