While “collaborative” could, in the broadest sense, be applied to any pipe wherein more than one carver had an active role in its specific creation (even when the carvers already work as a team within a pipe concern), if used that capriciously around a serious pipe collector the speaker might be, justifiably, hanged. Two legendary carvers joining forces, combining talents and forging a melding of aesthetics into a unique statement, is a rarity in and of itself. But when the two members of that team live on different continents and are separated by 5400 miles... Let’s just say that the odds shouldn’t have improved. The astonishing fact that Kei’Ichi Gotoh and Tom Eltang managed to pull slightly ahead of the odds in no way reduces the treasure that is the GoTang Pipe; quite the contrary, it speaks to the staggering unlikelihood of two giants, within one industry, coming to understand the art of each other at a near-atomic level, as well as a unique bond and friendship that is all too rare within a single community, much less between two men of vastly differing cultures.
This stunning GoTang Calabash represents a part of the fourth foray into a series of collaborations between Tom Eltang and Kei’Ichi Gotoh. It’s a partnership which began in 2006, when the latter visited the former, and the two co-shaped the base designs for four pipes. With the initial concept and shaping completed, the soon-to-be GoTangs went back and forth between Copenhagen and Tokyo as they were slowly, carefully completed. The GoTang legend appeared again in 2008, and once more in 2011. In accordance with an apparent (roughly) three-year cycle, the GoTang has risen again in 2014: Calabashes all, but each unique in its own right. Yes, that mount and cap are crafted from mammoth ivory, and the totality of fascination contained within this most singular form is unparalleled within my experience.
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves