The historical events are interdependent on each other. To study history, one must read and understand the events in the full picture, rather than study a particular discovery in isolation. The large printing press industry started in Germany in the 15th century. Do you think the printing press would exist had paper not been invented in China some 2200 years ago?
In another example, the discovery of gunpowder relates to Ancient China. The modern military complex is based on that single discovery in a sense. And it was the industrial revolution in Britain, that influenced the manufacturing processes worldwide. See, how the events relate to each other.
In this article, we will discuss the history of makeup brushes and kabuki brushes in particular. We will see where the makeup brushes originated, how they evolved, and when they were commercialized. More importantly, we have a lot to talk about the kabuki brush. Let’s get started.
Makeup brush history
The makeup brush is a tool that applies makeup to the face of the user. In this way, makeup brush adds to the beauty of women. Women have been interested in makeup since an untraceable time. History is often blurred here and it fails to single out the exact time when users started applying makeup using brushes. However, it is not completely silent altogether about it.
In 1925, the remains of a bronze cosmetic brush handle were found during the excavation of a Saxon Cemetery. The user of that makeup brush loved it so much that she preferred to have it buried along with her. It was estimated by the archeologists that the burials dated back from 500 to 600 A.D.
Way before that, these were the Egyptians who are estimated to have pioneered cosmetics. They would use kohl, an equivalent to modern eyeliner. Queen Cleopatra would wore lipstick those days. These trends influenced the Greeks and Romans before spreading worldwide. Initially, cosmetics were limited to the high class. With the commercialization of cosmetics products and makeup brushes, the beautification industry has been democratized now.
Kabuki brush history
A makeup brush typically has bristles, ferrule, and a handle. Bristles are either synthetic or natural. The ferrule is a metallic part of the makeup brush. And handle can be made of wood or plastic.
So, you must be thinking about what specialty a Kabuki brush carries and why it is named “Kabuki”. Before we get into Kabuki brush origins and evolution, let us define what the kabuki brush really is.
What is a kabuki brush?
The kabuki brush is different from a typical makeup brush. Its bristles are dense and fluffy. Traditionally, its bristles happened to be natural. It means they were derived from the skin of goats and ponies. However, modern Kabuki brushes have synthetic bristles. These synthetic bristles are manufactured in factories. The kabuki brush has a short wooden or aluminum-made handle. No ferrule is present as with other makeup brushes. Hair shape could be either round or flat at the top.
Kabuki brush is mostly a foundation brush. It means that it blends powdered makeup evenly on the skin of the user. A distinct feature of the Kabuki brush is that it gives full coverage. Many of its functions are similar to powder brush. Kabuki brush or powder brush, which one is better still remains to be answered authoritatively. However, for now, we are more interested in its origins.
Why it is named Kabuki brush
Kabuki is actually a name for Japanese theater. This classical form of Japanese theater has influenced art worldwide. Some female artists are thought to have introduced this dance-drama form of art in the Edo period (1603-1867). Kabuki theater reached its zenith in the mid-18th century, though it had gone through many adaptations and was more of a male-exclusive art now.
One thing common in all adaptations and modifications of Kabuki theatre is that all artists wore heavy makeup. The makeup foundation was always heavy. What brushes the Kabuki artists used became the Kabuki brushes.
Japan and China had been using animal hair calligraphy brushes for a long time. So, the adaptation of brushes for Kabuki artists was not a big issue for them. They made brushes that had dense and fluffy bristles. This way, they were able to wear heavy makeup. The use of kabuki brushes was restricted to Kabuki artists though.
However, it was industrial revolutions in Northern Europe that made the Kabuki brushes popular and made them available to the general public.
Commercialization of the Kabuki brushes
The commercialization of kabuki brushes or makeup brushes is very much attached to the mass production of mirrors. Historically, ladies of rank used makeup tools and makeup brushes. Only a few maidservants knew how to apply makeup using brushes. If an ordinary woman somehow managed to obtain makeup tools, she would lack access to the mirror. Thus, she was unable to apply the makeup herself.
It was the mass production of mirrors by Germany that acted as a precursor to the mass production of makeup brushes. In the late 19th century, Germans discovered new ways to mass-produce mirrors. The mirrors were introduced to the general public at very affordable rates. As the demand for mirrors grew, the demand for makeup tools also grew. Again, credit goes to Germany which pioneered the techniques to mass-produce modern makeup brushes.
Other countries like China, Japan, and Korea have been using traditional methods to produce makeup brushes. Soon, they were influenced by the new manufacturing techniques coming from Northern Europe. Kabuki brush though originated in Japan has now a totally new manufacturing process.
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It is important to see the events in a reel, not a snap. Though the Kabuki brush has its origins in Japan, the global community contributed much to its refinement and commercialization. Traditionally, it had natural bristles. But synthetic bristles or preferred now. It is a foundation brush that blends makeup evenly and gives full coverage.