The Last Brushmaker in Beijing

A big thank you to Beijing postcards for the wonderful tour in the Dashilan area last weekend and also to the Royal Asiatic Society (RASBJ) for hosting the event.

 

 

We were welcomed into the home and workshop of Hu Cheng Ming.

 

 

Hu Cheng Ming was six years old when he made his first brush. The brush making business ran in the family. His father was one of the first workers when the state owned brush making factory Lifushou opened in 1956. The factory was in Liiulichang very close to where Hu currently lives. There were as many as 800 workers there at one point but during the 90’s hand made brushes couldn’t compete with the cheaper machine made variety. As numbers of workers dwindled over the decades until Hu Cheng Ming ended up being the last worker remaining.

Today he is probably the only person in Beijing able to hand make such brushes from beginning to end.

 

The full process takes over 90 steps and several days to complete the whole process. He showed us the variety of hairs used, ranging from weasel pelt, pig hair, sheep hair, mountain sheep tend to have curly hair.

Brush handles were made of sandalwood, bamboo, and also more rarer kinds such the exotic patterned concubine bamboo which is more valued.

 

Hu Cheng Ming continues to make brushes and is very welcoming and warm to visitors.

 

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