A Brush with Death – The story behind the Mongoose Hair brushes
A film by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
This is a documentary about the killings of hundreds of mongoose to cater the paint brush making industry. Mongoose hair brushes are still manufactured in India and exported to other countries as artists like these brushes. No one is aware about the ‘bloody Truth’ behind the beautiful paintings. Many artists use these brushes without knowing the fact that these brushes are illegal .. Many leading suppliers are selling these brushes as ‘sable brushes’ or badger brushes. Watch the video and so that so that buying of these brushes will stop. For more information, please see this page on the WTI website: wti.org.in/current-news/120117_Deathly_strokes_threaten_mongoose.html
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Twenty five years back, there were NO other brushes available except those made with mongoose hair. Today there are many many synthetic brushes available which are excellent and of consistent quality. Branded paint brushes like Camlin, etc. sold in plastic folders are not made of mongoose hair anymore. Today, mongoose hair brushes are sold loose and have lesser brand names like Sugam etc. Well known art-material dealers in big cities like Bangalore or Delhi are afraid to show their clients brushes made of mongoose hair unless specifically asked. If they do have them, they claim they are ‘old stock’ and they say they no longer purchase those. They are also afraid of getting ‘raided’ by the wildlife department.
Mongoose hair brushes are crudely crafted compared to the machine made synthetic ones, and they also lose their strands way too fast to make GOOD brushes.
Compared to synthetic brushes, mongoose hair brushes are not durable.
This film would have been complete if only they had shown CLOSE-UPS of all the types of brushes and shown the difference between synthetic brushes and mongoose hair brushes to the viewers.
But kudos to the sting operation in unearthing the whole illegal business.
In smaller towns, many art material dealers still buy and stock mongoose hair brushes along with synthetic brushes. They even show them readily enough because they are completely unaware that these are illegal.
Even Sugam has synthetic hair brushes sold alongside the loose sold mongoose hair brushes. These brushes are marked ‘synthetic’.
Not all lesser brand brushes are mongoose.
The article on the WTI website shows some more brushes close-up. Those fan type wide brushes shown there are not available in India as far as I know. They say they were seized from an ‘exporter’.
If anyone comes across mongoose hair brushes, they should report the matter to the wildlife wing of their town/city.. Or write in to CI with the address of the dealer?
Maya – Thanks for the elaborate feedback. It makes a lot of sense coming from an accomplished artist / painter like you. I will pass on your feedback / suggestions to WTI who made this film plus have an ongoing program in putting an end to this brutal trade.