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Collection Highlights

Pipe

Pipe
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Mounir

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Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 1020

Inv.Inventory
 (Manial Museum) 220

where to find


showcase 26

Pipe

Category:
Personal equipment, pipes
Date:
Ottoman Period (1517-1922)
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
  • Organic material, fiber (from plants/animals), silk
  • Organic material, wood
Length:
160 cm
Hall:
Islamic Antiquities, showcase 26


Description

A wooden thin-stemmed smoking pipe covered in blue silk, with a tassel and an ebony mouthpiece. The stem (shank) is made of two parts. The first part is a tube with a large opening, of which a part is broken, and it was used to place the lighted tobacco in it, and the thinner part was used to draw the smoke through the mouthpiece. The larger part is decorated with floral motifs. This type of pipe was prevalent at the time of Mohammed Ali, ruler of Egypt from 1805 until his death in 1849.

The Pipe

Smoking was prevalent among the different social classes in Egypt, and soon became a daily pleasurable habit and a status symbol. The pipes of the poor differed from those of the rich, which were pieces of fine art and sometimes gold plated. Pipe-making triggered an industry for pipe and jewellery makers to exhibit their skill.

Pipes first appeared in Turkey in the early seventeenth century A.D. They were used to filter smoke and to cool the tobacco before it reached the mouth, bearing in mind that filtering it does not reduce the damage from tobacco. Pipes differ in shapes and sizes. A pipe is divided into three main parts: the small chamber or bowl, which is called "lolas" from the Turkish word "lol", where tobacco is burnt, the second part consists of the stem or shank, while the third part is the mouthpiece.

The chamber or bowl was usually made of burnt clay or from smooth stone, wood or metal or pyrolytic graphite. It was first shaped then decorated. The stem or shank of the pipe was made of reed, cherrywood, jasmine wood, as well as orange, lemon or olive woods. Dense-grained wood is considered ideal for pipe chambers. As for the mouthpiece, it was usually made of amber, marble, bone, ebony or gilded enamel.

Decoration on pipes varied to include geometrical designs (circles and triangles) mixed with motifs derived from nature such as flowers, shrubs, rays of the sun, dew drops, pine cones and shells.

Usually two servants would bring in the pipe, pack it with tobacco, light it and clean it. The length of a pipe could vary from ten centimetres to four metres.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press: 2001-2005.
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