Bronze pipe of the Batak
In the local language these bronze pipes are called raja or datu toba. These are tobacco pipes made by the Batak tribes that live in the north of Sumatra, especially around Lake Toba. The pipes were regarded as a status item for the Batak tribal leader, the raja or the priest, the datu. For generations this tribe has made their tobacco pipes in bronze, in a design following a fixed concept. This type, there are two, is the most common and has a trunk-like bowl, a heel marking and a long straight stem. The pipe is cast in the so-called lost wax method and is provided with a rhythmic geometric decoration on the bowl and stem. Because the long stem cannot be cast in one go, it consists of three pieces that are held together with a wooden core. Slightly beyond the centre of gravity of the pipe is a thickened band with a few knurls, which gives the pipe an elegant balance. Finally, there is a suspension eye on the bowl for carrying the pipe, commonly on a brass chain. Rare with this specimen is that the bowl has a lid that closes with a hinge. On this lid we see a cast standing rooster. This pipe with a length of more than eighty centimetres including the stem proves that Batak pipes can have a considerable length. They were carried over the shoulder with a chain. Notwithstanding the length and weight these pipes were actually used as smoking instruments, as witnessed by the layer of soot and tobacco residues in the original pieces, although these pipes were of course reserved for specific users.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 16.424
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