and Techniques

The Chinese brush is a much more refined tool than its Western counterpart. Around the core of long, resilient, and sharp-tipped hairs, there are several layers of softer, shorter hairs, which serve as a reservoir. With one and the same brush, both very thin and very heavy lines can be drawn.

The brush is used both for painting and calligraphy. These two arts are closely connected. Not only do many Chinese paintings have calligraphic inscriptions, but the lines in the painting, especially the contour lines, have a distinctly calligraphic quality.

Before the 20th century, Chinese painters never used oil paint. They used only Chinese ink and water colours, applied on paper or silk.

Chinese paper is highly absorbent. Once a line has been drawn, it cannot be corrected. For very detailed, elaborate paintings, the paper is treated with alum, to make it less absorbent. Silk for painting is usually treated the same way.

On most Chinese paintings, one or more red stamps or seals can be found. They usually give the name of the artist. The characters are of a special type, called "seal script".

Most Chinese paintings are scroll paintings. They have a thick wooden stick at the bottom and a thinner one at the top. When they are not being shown, the paintings are rolled around the thick stick and stored away.

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