These three long pipes are from Tibet and were used to smoke tobacco. Each is from a single piece of cast metal – brass, iron and steel – and have varying degrees of decoration and ornamentation. The long handles of each are in square form and each terminates with a narrowing mouthpiece.
The brass example is finely decorated on the sides and top of the handle with engraved scrolling cloud motifs. It also has a bowl that is cast with lotus petals.
Tobacco was consumed in Tibet from at least the early 17th century. It was imported to Tibet from neighbouring countries. Tibetans smoked tobacco in pipes on its own or mixed with other ingredients. Monks were forbidden its use, but other members of the population were able to use it.
Each has clear age and excellent patina. As a group, the three are a pleasing and unusual group.
They were collected by UK-based Trevor Barton, who amassed one of the world’s most important collections of tobacco and other pipes. Two of the three pipes have small, old labels attached which read ‘Barton Collection’.
Capitanio, J., Buddhism and Medicine, Columbia University Press, 2019.