This time email from China brings a blog post from Nancy...The street of brushes, Old City Xi'an, 21 June, 2012
I remember Shu Yuanmen from my two visits to it in 2005. Handicrafts and artisans fill these five streets with goods. There were relief carvings and soap stone stamps, exquisite cut paper rose windows and intricately cut shadow puppets, charms, bracelets of jade. Everywhere souvenirs and chatzkes were colorful and plenty.
Ah, but the brush stores. The brushes took my breath away. Imagine the front of a deep, narrow shop entrance hung with brushes neatly arranged by every size , including six foot brushes on the edges of the opened doorway. As you walk under this brush canopy you see brushes hung above your head- running the full depth of the small shops, the sides of which are filled with rice papers. How these shop owners make a living is curious as everyone seems to sell the same goods. I found my perfect brushes in a shop run by a young, smiling man who was gracious and patient, as I tried out the brushes with water and paper, but ferocious and stubborn when Jia Yue and Wan Huan ( Crystal ) tried to negotiate the price. I succeeded in convincing all that the final price was very satisfactory to me, although JiaYue is still certain that I overpaid. I now have three new calligraphy painting brushes to use in America.