Seated pipe smoker from the Kuba
Depicted is a magnificent and attractive piece of wood carving art, a man sitting on a stool smoking a pipe. The statue has a height of sixteen centimeters and a diameter of just over six. The skillful carver created a beautifully balanced piece of art with a silhouette that is attractive from all sides which is an important element in the charm of the object. In terms of hand work, the focus was on the persons head, with the headdress, eyes and mouth clearly in the style of the Kuba. Lower in the statue, the details are less elaborated: the loincloth, for example, is even hastily cut, since a belt of fibers was added to it later. In the Kuba tribe, the headdress confirms that the head is the source of divine power. That is why that part is shown most detailed. Naturally, the focus for us is on the pipe the man smokes. Its shape is most similar to the gourd pipe that is smoked in countless parts of Congo. The hollowed-out fruit acts as a cooling space for the smoke, an earthenware pipe bowl is normally applied for burning the tobacco. What is special about this statue is that it is a real pipe: the owner smoked it with the help of a straw that was inserted into the head of the person as a mouthpiece, the man's pipe was filled with some tobacco. A beautiful decorative piece, but certainly not just an ornamental pipe, the object has been smoked many times. Fortunately for us, not smoked so often that the pipe did burn out. The minimal bowl is somewhat unexpected for an area where tobacco is widely available. We know countless giant pipes from Congo, but we see small sizes like this just as well.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 24.089
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