Special Chinese script
Opium pipe dampers are often made in yixing clay, a Chinese stoneware with a very fine shard that was used for making teapots since the Song Dinasty. This exclusive type of stoneware has a cooling effect and has sufficient porosity to absorb the solids from the opium vapour. Many of such dampers got a decoration on the visible top side by scratching in the decor and then filling in with a clay in contrasting colour. The surface of these opium dampers is then polished to achieve a beautifully smooth skin.The pipe bowl thus remained completely flat for easy cleaning. Calligraphy are among the beloved motifs on such bowls, often inspired by Chinese poetry. The pipe bowl discussed here is different in the way that it doesn’t show the usual Chinese script, but a much simpler continuous writing. While the characters are normally placed in well-arranged rows from top to bottom, the writing here is evenly arranged around the bowl opening forming two text rings. Such opium dampers usually show stamps on the underside that refer to the maker and the place of manufacture, sometimes even a year or other special features are included. This pipe bowl has got as many as four groups of these stamps.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 16.310Permalink