For the Japanese, pipe smoking involves almost as much ceremony as tea drinking. It is not surprising that the smoking utensils and the associated tobacco curiosa were made with great care. This tabakobon or smoking set is a good example of this extensive culture. In a rectangular box with lacquer decoration, various objects indispensable for the pipe smoker are brought together. Most notable is the ceramic stove with a solid white shard intended for the coal fire to light the pipe. This is equipped with white glaze that shows a beautiful gray crackle. The tobacco jar has a remarkable high shape and is made of white bamboo. It is closed with a blackened wooden lid and stands in a black holder so that it cannot fall over when moving the smoking set. We also get to know the status of this smoking set from the corresponding pipe. Copper and brass are combined in a technical perfect bond. Quite simple materials, even though the bamboo stem of the pipe is burnt in an attractive way that emphasizes luxury and tradition. All in all it is a representative piece, but not of the ultimate quality. The lacquer painting, for example, has characteristics of factory work and does not have the sophistication of the individual lacquer artist. The ceramic stove also has no signature as a sign of pride of a specific ceramist. The beautiful condition of the whole suggests that it is a recent object, but that is not the case. The object certainly dates from the Meji period or from before 1915 and therefore has an age of at least a century. It is the Japanese longing for prefection that keeps even a rather simple smoking set as this in perfect condition for such a long time.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.049Permalink