Chinese culture is imbued with patient attention to detail. In the art of Chinese calligraphy, the shape, size, hairs type of the ink brush, the color, color to water ratio in the ink, the paper water absorptive speed and surface texture all influence the effect of the finished artwork. Additionally, the artist controls the final outcome through the quantity of ink he lets the brush absorb as well as by the pressure, inclination, and direction he gives to the brush. To be considered truly educated in ancient China, one must have an extensive knowledge of calligraphy and must be able to appreciate as well as produce beautiful works. The calligraphy brush makers of Dai Yue Xuan, established in 1916, create a variety of carefully crafted brush types. In addition to a wide range of brush sizes, they offer brushes in goat hair, weasel hair, and rabbit hair, all known for producing different effects in works of calligraphy.
Similarly, Chinese embroidery and silk products require equal scrupulous craftsmanship. Most Chinese fine embroideries are made in silk. Silk production in China dates back 5000 to 6000 years. With the opening of the Silk Road, demand for Chinese silk products boomed, as traders from India, Persia, Tibet, traveled to attain the precious fabrics and silk goods, creating famous travelers like Marco Polo. Beautifully hand embroidered silk scarves, which its soft sheen, careful needlework, and cool, slippery fabric are still in high demand today, as modern women use it to accessorize their purses, or tie it around their necks for an effortless, chic look.
Traditional Chinese fashion include such popular items such as silky qipao, long men’s mandarin jacket, delicate fans, and stately otter skin caps, which are all still worn today. Qipao is a silk dress for women, tapered at the legs and at the waist, creating a slim, smooth silhouette. Usually decorated with lavish prints from flowers to phoenixes, these dresses come in a variety of hues. Another traditional Chinese fashion piece which has carried into the modern age is the folding fan. Sometimes made with silk, sometimes with paper, these fans can be plain or painted. A favorite of all ladies, these fans were carried everywhere, from garden parties to tea houses, the intricate designs on the folding fan flashing and fluttering as the owner demurely fans herself. For men, mandarin jackets, or changshan, are long, loose fitting shirts meant to reach the ankles. Introduced during the Qing dynasty, mandarin jackets became immensely widespread in China and were used for all formal occasions before the popularization of western men’s suits.