Thembu Pipe - South Africa

Originating from simple cylinders of bone and stone, tobacco pipes in Africa rapidly evolved in form after the introduction of European designs, which local artists first copied, then made their own. Southern African pipes became more and more elaborate over time, giving rise to a profusion of imaginative figural and openwork compositions, exemplified by the pipe presented here. By the early twentieth century the region boasted one of the most sophisticated pipe carving traditions on the continent. The rapid march of change during that era may be read in the many rings worked into the body of this pipe, which recall the wheels of trains and wagons brought by the encroachment of Europeans.

Late 19th century
8 1/4” l 2 2/3” h
Wood, metal
Provenance: Merton Simpson, New York; Kevin Conru, Brussels
Published in The Art of Southeast Africa, Kevin Conru, plate 31g
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