For the peoples of the Grasslands of Cameroon, the tobacco pipe is an important status item. In that area, the smoker carefully chooses his smoking instrument, that must be in accordance with the person's standing. But with the Graslanders, the tobacco pipe culture goes even further. Pottery makers are inspired to make showpieces, not meant to be used for smoking, but rather as a gift item for valued people. Such a pipe is shown here. The pipe has three members of European colonial forces standing next to each other, arms around each other's shoulders. It is not surprising that European soldiers are depicted. Cameroon was occupied territory from 1901, initially by the Germans, from the First World War by the French and English. These soldiers were often the subject of figured sculpted ceramics or bronze castings. It is a pity, of course, that we cannot see from the uniforms what soldiers are depicted. The local potters had no regard for that military status aspect. Finally, it should be mentioned that in Cameroon multi-headed pipes were intended for twins and triplets. Normally it is about functional pipes. But even this presentation pipe is usable because at the rear, the smoke tubes lead to one cuff, the traditional leak hole being provided at the base of the stem. It is almost unthinkable that this is a one-off piece, because the pipe is so perfectly constructed. However, a second copy of this remarkable show pipe is still unknown.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.157Permalink