A bird on the pipe bowl
In the twentieth century, the Dogon tribe from Mali is known for their tobacco pipes made of cast brass. Why this tribe exchanged their traditional pottery pipes rather abruptly for those in brass is not clear. The pipe bowl shown here is a representative example of this new fashion. The object is made in the so-called cire perdue technique where a wax model was first formed. This wax model was packed in clay and heated. While the clay hardened, the wax melted and the empty gap was then filled with liquid brass. This specimen has an oval bowl shape and is provided with a heel, the stem rises and ends without a cuff. A simple decoration of zigzag lines has been applied around the bowl and stem to alternate with the smooth surface. What makes this pipe so attractive is that very playfully a stylized bird has settled on the pipe bowl with the beak on the edge of the bowl opening. Animal figures are more often depicted in pipes by the Dogon, although this attractive example witnesses beautiful, subtle modeling. The brass tradition lasts throughout the twentieth century, but the execution gradually becomes less detailed and therefore less attractive.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 23.388
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