Yuwei: ***Smooth Tomato with Bamboo and Boxwood Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-842-0051

Yuwei Huang is a Taiwanese artisan whose work follows in the traditions of both the Danish and Japanese schools of design, crafting pieces with both impeccable attention to detail and a keen eye for organicism. It comes as no surprise, then, that he would favor the Tomato shape and that the profile would make regular appearances within his portfolio, often paired to bamboo such as in this example. This piece, however, is quite a bit different from his usual renditions of the shape: It emphasizes a striking asymmetry that not only proves Yuwei's talent for shaping but thoroughly unifies the disparate materials used in the pipe's construction.

I've often said that the Tomato is a shape which thrives through the shape of its bowl, as one which is plump and rotund not only fills out the contours of the hand better, but falls more in line with both the pipe's namesake and the chart standard which has become a modern classic. This piece is a bit different, however, maintaining the supple curvature of its bowl but possessed of a touch more height than would be expected given its breadth. The walls are full and wonderfully rounded, sitting atop a lifted heel and taking on an arcing taper to the rim from a low-set waistline. Additionally, the bowl is quite asymmetrical, with more body lent to the left flank than the right — a shaping detail that is actually a bit more subtle than the rest of this pipe's asymmetric qualities.

The most visually striking element of this composition is the bamboo shank extension, its two large knuckles taking on a dramatic upturn out of the trim shank and tightly-knit transition. It's here that Yuwei really displays his shaping prowess, for the underside of this pipe showcases extreme attention to detail with regard to following the shape of the bamboo. There's a sizable hollowing in place at a large node of the first knuckle that the briar follows, recessing to put said node on full display and rising at the flanks to meet the other sides of the dense grass. The result is a locus of intense visual and textural intrigue that is fantastically organic, unifying the burl and bamboo in a way I've seldom seen and is difficult to achieve. The transition is actually set further to the right of the bowl than toward the middle, and this accounts for the bamboo's slight left lean, though its end is still set further right than would be standard. Here we see the stem come into play, meeting a band of boxwood before it arcs out from the shank, curving to the left dramatically before pushing right again, centering it for easy smoking. Dressed in a warm honey-mahogany contrast stain, this piece showcases some beautiful grain, with flame grain following the flanks of the bowl throughout and a vast basin of birdseye on the underside: its hues harmonizing with the bamboo's as if the bowl were a smoothly polished, natural extension of the material.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.88 in./123.95 mm.
  • Weight: 2.13 oz./60.33 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.72 in./43.69 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.36 in./34.54 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.78 in./19.81 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Tomato
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Taiwan
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