The Grasslands of Cameroon
The most explicit smoking culture can be found in Cameroon. There, the tobacco pipe was a status carrier for the user. All tribes had clear rules for who can use what: for example, women only smoked from pipes with geometric motifs, while the figural representations were reserved for the men.
The size of the pipe underlined the status of the user. The largest pipes, la pipe du chef, were offered as a gift to the tribe elder or to princes. The pipe bowl alone can sometimes be half a meter high, a wooden stem of one meter long completes the impressive pipe. On official occasions they were carried around filled with tobacco.
Traditionally, the pipe bowls were made of earthenware, baked black in simple field kilns. Ironically, mainly produced by women, who themselves were not allowed to use the most beautiful figured pipes. It is a technique that still exists, the old craftsmanship has changed but not diminished. Even new designs are still being created today.
In addition to pottery, brass pipes were also used in Cameroon. Depictions of German soldiers who colonized Cameroon at the beginning of the twentieth century were particularly popular. A rare example in traditional design, is made of modern aluminum and dates from around 1960. A special feature of the Grassland pipes is that production continues unabated and hardly shows a caesura in quality and artistry.