Tao: Smooth Billiard with Antique Whale Tooth
Product Number: 002-748-0005
While compact, abbreviated briars are part and parcel to Tao Nielsen's signature style, overall I'd say this Billiard is one of his trimmer fare. Tao's shaping style is heavily influenced by his time spent on the sea, preferring to produce stouter, chubbier forms with thick insulating walls and reinforced weak points — a dainty, lithe Prince for example would be far less likely to stand the rigors of sea travel, after all. You can see that muscular approach well in this piece; there's plenty of extra briar to the bowl, with plump, full cheeks around the transition, but the shank itself is far more slender than you'd typically expect from Nielsen. That trimmer style, of course, actually works to emphasize the full nature of the bowl itself, lending even more visual weight to those aforementioned cheeks. All in all, it's still quite Tao in its overall execution, just a touch more elegant in line and form.
While all that shaping is quite impressive, what strikes me the most about this particular design is the mediums at play — Tao having chosen to fit this handy Billiard to a mouthpiece crafted from quite a unique material: antique whale tooth from the Faroe Islands, where the harvesting of pilot whales has been central to community life (and generally, survival) for more than a millennium*. Its pale shade makes for a gorgeous juxtaposition against the warmer tones of the contrast stain, with that transition buffered and softened by a stem accent of finely striated cumberland. Gorgeous piece from the Danish master here.
*While the harvesting of whales is most often thought of in terms of the once widespread whaling industry, small-scale, localized whale hunts have been central to Faroese life since the North Atlantic islands were settled by the Norse, circa 800 A.D. With a climate and soil wholly unsuited to supporting life by farming crops, those who lived on the Faroe Islands learned to subsist upon pilot whale, sheep, seabirds, and fish. The rich meat and blubber of the pilot whale was (and still is) the most important, the annual catch to this day being divided communally then stored, prepared or preserved in Faorese households (in other words, you won't find it in a Faroe Islands supermarket, nor do they export any of it).
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Measurements & Other Details
- Length: 4.40 in./111.76 mm.
- Weight: 1.31 oz./37.19 g.
- Bowl Height: 1.62 in./41.15 mm.
- Chamber Depth: 1.37 in./34.80 mm.
- Chamber Diameter: 0.74 in./18.80 mm.
- Outside Diameter: 1.47 in./37.34 mm.
- Stem Material: Other
- Filter: None
- Shape: Billiard
- Finish: Smooth
- Material: Briar
- Country: Denmark