Bamboo rhizome is a beautiful and logical material to use as a briar ferrule, and many carvers now employ it to fine effect. The distance between fine and transcendent bamboo work, while usually simply a matter of a couple of minute tweaks, often seems to become kilometers in practice; I might be able to count those whom I consider masters of the material on one hand. Jeff Gracik, Smio Satou, Adam Davidson, Peter Heeschen... and now Ping Zhan of the People’s Republic of China.
The fact that unassumingly superb presentation reminds me a bit of Adam’s work is a pure coincidence, Ping’s art is purely autodidactic – he hasn’t been able to attend (say) the CPCC or the West Coast pipemaker gatherings, and there are times when access to the internet can have some constraints where he works. Naturally inspired, delicate, and gracile in gesture, this sitter becomes an object of contemplation whether in the hand or on your desk – the harmony found within the form of the body is well continued by the ferrule: a three knuckle rhizome which features an asymmetrical inlay (two on the right, one on the left) of horn on the nodes. Limited to only 100 pipes a year, with a strong demand already established in Europe, finding a Zhan briar won’t be the easiest task, but one well worth the effort.
-- R. ‘Bear’ Graves