She said many of her peers who are not art majors have rediscovered the charm of traditional art, and they often get together to discuss painting and calligraphy.
“It is the love of traditional Chinese culture that ignites our affection for the ‘Four Treasures of Study,'” said Yang, who started learning Chinese painting when he was 5 years old.
Xu Heping, owner of a traditional art supply store in the northwest Chinese city of Yinchuan, has seen a growing number of teenagers and young adults become new customers.
“With the hope that their children will be adept at Chinese calligraphy, more and more parents have invested in calligraphy training,” he said.
“As a result, teenagers and young adults often come to my shop.”
Wang Dongxiang, owner of a similar store, said many of his young customers are rather mature connoisseurs of traditional tools.
“They know how to choose products based on their writing style. They often have unique and cultured tastes,” Wang said.
Responding to the growing popularity of ink and paper brushes, manufacturers began to put a modern and innovative spin on the designs of traditional tools to appeal to younger buyers.
Wang Weiji runs a popular online store on Taobao that sells traditional art tools with innovative designs, drawing heavily on feline imagery. One of Wang’s bestsellers is a cat’s paw-shaped inkstone.
“It’s so cute! I didn’t expect an ink stone to be so cute,” commented a mother who bought one for her child to learn calligraphy.
Wang said many of its designers are young people who have worked on Chinese animation or movie posters before and are well aware of new trends among young Chinese people.
“The popularity of the cat-themed ‘Four Treasures of Study’ is not only in the design, but also in the young people’s affection for pets,” Wang said.
The growing popularity of traditional art tools is also beneficial for the revival of the craftsmanship behind the intricate manufacturing processes.
Making quality paper is time-consuming and labor-intensive, and often involves more than 100 steps, Yang said.
“The popularity of the ‘Four Treasures of Study’ can be encouraging for artisans and can attract more young people to the industry,” she said.