Perfectly executed and featuring a poignantly beautiful, Zen inspired shape, the likes of which I would never anticipate encountering from any carver - save Tokutomi or Kurusu – this stunning blowfish was created by a carver of only three years experience... and all of his training was autodidactic. If, rather than pipe, the topic was music, we might be playfully referring to him as Mozart. Since the subject is pipes, however, we refer to him as Ping Zhan.
After finding only perfection in the execution, not to mention a superb grain of faultless placement, I had to scrutinize this briar from rim to stern – with only three years of experience, and mentor/feedback-free experience at that – give me a tick and I will (damn it) find an area which needs improvement. Hand carved stem, deliciously thin bit of perfect slotting, chamfered tenon, polished interior in the mortise and a draft hold placement right where “God intended”. My personal ego is bruised, but the pipe-nut in me is crazy-happy. Looking back at my run-on first sentence, I made a small error; Ping Zhan’s work hasn’t been feedback free, his pipes sell like crazy in Europe – and that is the most earnest feedback which a carver can receive. Mr. Zhan? “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
-- R. ‘Bear’ Graves