France has a long tradition with Algeria, although it has not always been a friendly one. From 1830 a special army unit fought in Algeria turn this country into a French colony. These infantrymen, so-called Zouaves, became known and not in the least because of their costume with well-known puff pants and close-fitting jackets with embroidery. The successes of this army unit also led to actions in the Ottoman Empire, the Papal States and even in the Civil War in the United States. These infantrymen even remained active during the French Second Empire. This pipe bowl shows such a Zouave sitting on a boulder while stabbing himself with a dagger in its chest. An action of suicide and therefore a bloody scene. The maker of this figure pipe is the northern French factory Louis Fiolet, which has been active since 1765 in the production of luxury clay pipes. Fiolet aimed to follow fashion closely and to always had an up-to-date range of pipes available for a broad target group. We do not know exactly when this item was designed. The Zouave army had different periods of popularity and continued to appeal to the smoker over a longer period of time. As far as the pipe is concerned: it has not been an easy smoker. The cubic representation is relatively heavy, which of course a daily smoking pipe should not be. The fact that the pipe never came into use, must be the reason that it survived the time. The traces of smoke that the pipe bowl carries, especially visible around the bowl opening, have nothing to do with pipe smoking. They were caused by years of exposure to clouds of tobacco smoke, perhaps even from cigars, while this pipe bowl was only flaunting and gradually discoloured.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.524Permalink