This exceptional opium pipe was made in the 19th century and is the work of a virtuoso craftsman. The main stem is covered with beautiful and dark tortoise shell. The end parts are made of contrasted spinach jade, going from dark to milky green. Before these parts comes a curved ring, showing an abstract pattern engraved on a black ground metal.The saddle is of very solid and massive construct. Several overlayered thin metal layers form this ensemble. Starting at the small bottom part we find a representation of a lotus flower. This symbol is often used to shape more simple saddles for its meaning of purity and long life. Upwards the stem we find a section showing Chinese characters; often short poems would be written on opium paraphernalia to accompany the smoker in his meditation.
Further above we find a small section showing a dormouse playing in the vines. This symbol is a highly appreciated depiction because it is a metaphor of the opium smoker. Alike the dormouse, the opium smoker sleeps in the day and live at night engaging not in the pursuit of nuts but of dreamish and vague encounters. A signature mark can be seen on the side of the saddle. The opium bowl is also of very fine facture.Its brown reddish color harmoniously matches the tortious shell. Clay, the top part shows several overlapping rectangular frames inscribed with Chinese characters. This depiction has been sculpted into the clay and has then been inlayed with clay of different colors.
This very meticulous work required great skills and defines this bowl as of the most luxurious. The bottom side show two signature of the craftsman and the workshop who produced this item. The two other sides show Chinese inscriptions. The pipe is in very good condition. The tortious shell is in splendid shape, showing no cracks nor marks.
The opium bowl is also in perfect state. Not seen on the photos: we have added some textile tape around the metal connector of the bowl so it would fit and hold to the pipe. Traditionally this was done by wrapping some textile around the bowl and paste it with sticky opium. As the opium would dry the textile would hold.The cotton-based tape we have added can be removed without any effort. The pipe: Length 64,5 cm (25.39) Diameter 2,1 cm (0.83). The bowl: total height 5 cm (1.97) top surface 6,5 cm (2.56) by 6,5 cm (2.56). The item "Tortoise Shell Chinese Opium Antique" is in sale since Monday, October 28, 2019. This item is in the category "Antiques\Asian/Oriental Antiques\Chinese\Other Chinese".klay" and is located in Neuchâtel. This item can be shipped worldwide.