Variations from Congo
Congo is a gigantic country, where many tribes and sub-tribes live with their own smoking habits. This is reflected in specific, tribal forms. Wood is the material of choice, usually with a metal lining inside the pipe bowl. Initially this is iron or brass, later often aluminum. The silhouette of the pipe plays a role in the smoker's appearance. It underlines the status of the user who wants to impress with a strongly curved pipe or an imposing long straight object.
The figuration plays a major role. For example, the Luba and the Luluwa make pipes with a standing or sitting human figure in the stem. Sometimes the small bowl is placed in the belly button, in other cases it is a normal sized pipe bowl that is placed in the bulbous base of the pipe. The sculpture is usually provided with a straw or hollow twig as a mouthpiece. The figural aspect makes these pipes popular collector's items.
The pipes of the Kuba tribe are less exuberant but recognizable for their preference for geometric decorations. Their pipes show complicated braiding patterns around the bowl and stem, as is also known from their textiles. Even when the pipe bowl has a portrait, we see geometric decorations similar to tattoos. With these pipes the stem of the pipe goes up in a striking bend.
Noteworthy are tobacco pipes with a nut as a base, which, filled with fine grass, acting as a filter. The shape of these pipes with a vertical silhouette is unmistakably derived from the phallus. They come from the Jacpa or the Nzakara tribe. A different tobacco pipe is made of ivory and has the appearance of a Grassland pipe. However, the production took place in Congo, where every conceivable pipe from elsewhere has been worked out as a copy into a semi-original creation.