A good friend of mine was in China visiting her grandparents for a month. She emailed me from there with an update of her trip and ended with PS. The PS had my attention as soon as I read the first words – “I discovered a pipe shop! And found you a Chinese handmade pipe by a local company called “Brothers” started up by two brothers.” Anytime I get an email like this one I get a bit excited. A gift pipe from a good friend is always special. And I cannot wait to hear why she chose the pipe she did. To me that makes the choice very personal and even more unique. I know some folks struggle with other people picking out pipes for them but I have found that when I remember why they picked it out, what the pipe is like really does not make that much difference. She picked the pipe out because for some reason she thought about me and wanted to do this for me. She knows I love the pipe and she wanted to acknowledge that! I find that an amazing thing.
I am the kind of person that likes to connect a pipe to a place, so once I read her email I did a Google search for the Two Brothers Tobacco Shop. I wanted to see the place she found the pipe. I like seeing first hand that kind of thing and I love collecting photos of the shops I have visited or friends have visited for me. It gives me a sense of place for the pipe once it arrives. I still had no idea what the pipe would look like or whether it would even be briar. All I knew was that it was a handmade Chinese pipe. Fairly quickly I found what I was looking for and saved the following picture. I emailed her the picture and asked if this was the shop. She laughed and said it was indeed the place where she purchased it. She was amazed that I had found the shop. At that point my wait began. I would not get to see the pipe she had picked out until she returned later in October.
She also sent me a link to the painting below. She said the painting inspired her to go hunting for a Chinese pipe for me. I found that interesting so I went to the website she sent and read about the painting. It is called Ode to the Red Candle and was painted by Wen Lipeng, a Chinese painter who was the son of a freedom fighter, poet and scholar named Wen Yiduo. Yiduo is the author of the poem The Red Candle. In this poem, he expressed his genuine love for the country, and his hatred, and protested against the corrupted rule of KMT. He was killed by KMT because of anti-civil war in 1946. Wen Lipeng is the son of Wen Yiduo. He portrayed Wen Yiduo, a figure with the elegance of scholar and the spirit of a freedom fighter. The contrast between red and black, stillness and movements endows the picture with charisma beyond ordinary figure paintings. The burning candles, fierce fire, and other symbolic language highlights Wen’s spirit of serving the country and fight for the truth. I really like the painting and thought I would pass it on in this post.
A month went by quite quickly and we exchanged a few updates on her trip and her work throughout the time she was away. We did not talk about the pipe at all. Then on the weekend I got an email from her. She was back in Vancouver and had caught up from her case of jetlag. She wanted to connect so she could give me the pipe. I have to say I was looking forward to seeing what she had found. It would be good to reconnect with her and catch up AND to see the pipe of course.
We met for dinner and caught up on her trip. It was good to hear how the trip had gone and how her family in China were doing. As we settled in to wait for dinner she took my gift from her purse and handed it to me. It was in a beautiful deep blue box with pipes stamped on the outside. When I opened the box there was a suede pipe bag that had the pipe inside. I love it when pipes are wrapped this way – a bag within the box – as it is like opening two presents! I took the pipe out of the pipe bag and it was beautiful. It was made out of a Chinese wood that I later learned was called Chicken Wing wood and its shape is a hexagon. My friend loves bees and chose this pipe because the hexagon shape reminded her of bees. So combined with the impetus of the painting and the desire to gift me this pipe was the shape that her passion caused her to choose. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the same Chinese characters that appear on the sign in the photo of the shop. I believe they read Two Brothers. On the stem there are two hands facing each other with thumbs up in white. On the right side of the shank it is stamped 0009/1000 and Handmade in China. It is comfortable in the hand and the mouth.
When I returned home I contacted a friend who confirmed the kind of wood the pipe was made of and then I did a bit of hunting on the net to see what I could find out about it. The wood is evidently used in furniture and also smaller boxes and gift items. I even found an Iphone cover in Chicken Wing wood. I also found this lot with similar grain on EBay. They are not as nice as the one I received as the finish on mine is very smooth. http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=Beautiful%20Natural%20Chicken%20Wing%20Wood%20Smoking%20Tobacco%20Pipes%20filter%209mm%20J80636&_itemId=140797543935
I found this description of Chicken Wing Wood. It is an interesting Chinese hardwood.
I brought it to work with me and I will load up a bowl of a favourite tobacco and give it an inaugural smoke. Thanks Leah for the thoughtful gift. It is indeed well chosen and a pipe that I will enjoy and take pleasure in for a long time.
Here are some photos of the nomenclature close up
I just received these two photos from pipephil that he has composed for his site on pipe logos and stamping http://www.pipephil.eu/