This is an unusual piece by Satou standards. While the bowl design is right at home within the context of this artisan's work, the long, gently flared shank is an uncommon, more Danish-oriented element - Satou typically goes for either shorter ones, or for a lenthier composition, a bamboo extension. Furthermore, it sports his richest, darkest, and most seldom seen smooth-pipe contrast finish, a beautifully smoky stain with a good bit of quiet warmth seeming to glow gently from its depths. Finally, there's the tsuishu accent. It's essentially made fromt he same sumac lacquer used on traditional urushi artwork/finishing (see for example Tsuge's Urushi line of pipes), but laid down in numerous, dyed layers until you have what is essentially a solid, multicolored chunk of the labor-intensive lacquer, which is then shaped into the desired form. As far as I know, Smiou Satou is the only artisan in the world using this stuff on pipes, and even then it's typically only on a few a year. Given the overall uniqueness of this piece, here's hoping whoever might next add it to their collection treats it a good deal better; the previous owner really did a number on this beauty's rim.
- Eric N. Squires