Neither compassionate or ethical. Are we talking about the painter using the kolinsky brush or the tenacious animal known as the Kolinsky Siberian weasel responsible for the finest hair brushes. Obviously, some people are upset that these animals are sacrificing their lives for art, and probably a lot of bad art at that. They are known to actively chase prey- and their eyes are bigger than their mouths- through snow, dense forest, water and into people’s homes. They are also known as wandering spirits in Northern China, that can steal and replace people’s souls; with what exactly is not disclosed but if you see what appears to be lost Chinese soul preying on rodents and rats in an urban setting, you may be onto something.
They are a lot more expensive than synthetic brushes, but are they really better? Generally yes. Sort of. We sell Series 7 Winsor & Newton kolinsky brushes which are pricey and lower grade ones that call themselves Kolinsky but for all we know may be roadkill from the Russian hinterland. The prices go from $100 down to $7 so there must be some science here, or the price has to be a reflection of the hunting skills. If the hunter has to traipse, halfway up realizing he has no matches for a smoke, up to the top of a mountain and spear it, shoot it , knife it dead it has to be worth more than a domestic harvest on a fur farm. Its a buyer beware; and besides its better to keep painting than risk these nasty critters from encroaching down from the North into say Saskatchewan Roughriders football games or suburban Edmonton.Don’t be alarmed, Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot can stop a horde of wild Siberian weasels, before man can crush their skulls, and sell off the spare parts as an aphrodisiac in some corner of the globe.
from Wiki:The hair is obtained from the tail of the kolinsky (Mustela sibirica), a species of weasel rather than an actual sable; The finest brushes are made from the male hair only, but most brushes have a mix of about 60/40 male-to-female hair. Kolinsky bristles tend to be pale red in colour with darker tips. The weasel is not an animal that is raised well in captivity, and is generally isolated to the geographical region of Siberia. Due to this difficulty in harvesting the hair, and the fact that other natural and artificial bristles are not comparable in quality, makes these bristles extremely valuable and consequently expensive. Those who use the kolinsky sable brush claim it has superior strength, slenderness, and resilience when compared with other sable brushes.
From Winsor & Newton: Series 7 is the world’s finest water colour brush. The standards of quality for this brush were set in 1866, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria gave orders that Winsor & Newton should produce the very finest water colour brushes in her favourite size; the No.7. Today, Series 7 is manufactured from only the finest pure Kolinsky Sable hair, in rust-proof, seamless nickel plated ferrules with black polished handles.