Enquiry about object: 1481

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    Brass Bird-shaped Pipe

    early 20th century

    length: 48cm

    Available Enquire

    This intricate comprises a brass pipe head and an exceptionally long shaft which is made from a single, long hollowed liana stem. The shaft has a conical mouthpiece of brass sheet.

    The pipe head has been cast in brass using the lost-wax or cire perdue technique. It comprises a V-shaped plain stem which supports an bird head based on that of an ibis, on one end. The bird’s head is crested and has bulging eyes with oval eyelids. It has a long conical beak holding an egg. A cylindrical, waisted bowl sits on top of the bird’s head. It is decorated with bands that seem to emulate basket work and applied spheres.

    The pipe bowl and shaft both have obvious wear from use and a dark patina from wear and age.

    The pipe head most probably is from the Bamum (Bagum) people of the Cameroon Grasslands. The long liana stem shaft is unusual and may derive from a tribal group elsewhere: possibly the pipe head was a trade good. Such pipe heads were prestige goods among members of the nobility.


    Bacquart, J. B., The Tribal Arts of Africa, Thames & Hudson, 1998.

    Ginzberg, M., African Forms, Skira editore, 2000.

    Owusu, H., African Symbols, Sterling, 2000.

    Robbins, W. M. and N.I. Nooter, African Art in American Collections, Smithsonian Institution, 1989.

    Sotheby’s, ‘The Alexander S. Honig Collection of African Art’, New York, May 18, 1993.

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