There are three main types of brush in Chinese traditional ink painting, soft, hard and mixed:
SOFT Brush(软毫 ruǎn háo)
These highly absorbent brushes are also referred to as “goat hair” (羊毫 yáng háo) brushes. They give a soft, saturated stroke.
HARD Brush(硬毫 yìng háo)
Resilient brushes that easily spring back to their original shape, and known as “wolf” hair brushes (狼毫 láng háo). “Wolf” is a mistranslation, as this is an abbreviation using just one character from the word for weasel (黄鼠狼 huáng shǔ láng, literally “yellow rat-wolf”). Weasel brush just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.
Hard brushes also use rabbit fur, deer, and marten. Due to the darker colour of these brushes, they are also referred to as “purple” brushes (紫毫 zǐ háo – strictly speaking only refers to rabbit hair).
MIXED Brush (兼毫 jiān háo)
A mix of soft and hard brush hairs. So for example you might see “Seven purple three goat” (七紫三羊 qī zǐ sān yang), meaning seven parts rabbit and three parts goat hair. Beginners usually start off using mixed hair brushes.
Huzhou city (湖州 hú zhōu) in northern Zhejiang province is China’s most famous producer of brushes, known as “hu bi” (湖笔 hú bǐ).