Looking at the sheer size (and long, slender profile) of this Kujira (whale), it’s tempting to name it a “Nagasukujira” (fin whale), a slightly shorter cousin of the blue. Approaching a weight of 135 grams and boasting a length of well over seven inches, this leviathan is undoubtedly the largest Ikebana I have run across, and certainly one of the most sculptural.
Like many legendary pipes, Ikebanas are graded on a combination of the quality of the grain and excellence in shaping. On the latter, I have described many Whale compositions, which run from abstract in the extreme, to briar sculptures that endeavored to capture the form and spirit of the Cetacean, going so far as to create something of a three-dimensional snapshot of the oceanic denizen in motion. Contemplating this pelagic-inspired ‘J’ Grade, I can’t recall a finer example of the realist approach. On the grain? While I have seen better coverage on the smooth portion at this level, and the dark cherry stain doesn’t present the best case for the mélange of straight and flame grain, the sandblasted birdseye that runs the length of the underside is remarkable in its beauty.
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves