African pipes

In Africa the various cultures have expressed their own local styles in their pipes. Next to small pocket sized pipes, some tribes prefer extremely large ones. The common dry smoking pipe is in use but in many regions the water pipe is popular. On this subject we offer a separate paragraph.

Extremely refined are the pipes from the South-African Bush men made out of colourful soapstone. Most remarkable, the shapes are derived from the European pipes, in which the Gouda clay pipe bowl is reflected as well as the Ulm shape, a bowl with a particular outline and flattened on both sides.

An ingenious combination of decoration and practical shape show the Ashanti pipes, coming from the gold tribe on the African west coast. The decorations on their pipes illustrate proverbial sayings in their language. These pipes were made for centuries in the same way, but unfortunate the techniques became out of use in the early 1900's.

Tribes in Congo favour geometrical patters. Especially the Kuba are fond of special tress work, expressed in their pipes. These patterns are visible in bands on the stems and along the bases of the bowls. Wood is the most common material for pipes.

A special section is dedicated to the tobacco pipes of Cameroon, where smoking is highly respected.

short stemmed pipes after the Dutch clay pipes made from steatite, Kaffer, South-Africa, 1820-1900 pipe bowl the shape inspired on the German Ulm pipe, Kaffer, South-Africa, 1880-1900
figural Xhosa pipe showing a sitting woman, the head is the pipe lid, Xhosa, South-Africa, 1890-1910
rare four-bowled pipe derived from the German Ulm-shape, Zulu, Xhosa, South-Africa, 1860-1900
remarkable wooden pipe, the bowl interior lined with sheetmetal, round the bowl geometrical pattern, Xhosa, South-Africa, 1880-1920
wooden pipes with pewter inner bowls and beadwork decorations, Zulu, South-Africa, 1900-1930
a standing cockerel in wood, the bowl interior with sheetiron, Kwanga, Zambia, 1880-1900
slender wooden pipe bowl with colourfull bead work, Xhosa, South-Africa, 1930-1950
pipe bowl in serpentine stone with lead inlays, Yombe, Congo, 1880-1920
a the base of the pipe a buffle, the pipe bowl inlayed with glass beads, Mashukolumbwe, Zambia, 1930-1950
the pipe bowl placed on the back of a waterbuffle, Mashukolumbwe, Zambia, 1900-1940
wooden pipe like a satuette with a small bowl in the belly of the woman, Luba, Ghana, 1960-1980
pottery pipe bowl as a human face, Kenya, 1880-1920
long wooden pipe with handle behind the bowl, carving in geometrical pattern and leadinlay, Malawi, Nyasaland, 1860-1930
massive wooden pipe with geometrical shape and incised decoration, Congo ?, 1880-1930 unusual elongated pipe with square bowl in the middle, West-Africa, 1950-1960
the shape of the modern briar by a local pipemaker, Fang, Gabon, 1900-1930
the characteristic pipe of the Dogon with high bi-conical bowl and square manchette, Dogon, Mopti, Mali, 1700-1850
wooden pipe with two oval bowls, showing a carved geometrical pattern, Malawi, Nyasaland, Madegascar, 1850-1900 tobacco pipe of black backed ceramic decorated with fine lines, Congo, 1850-1910
the stem decorated with three sitting figures and thin metal bands, Ovimbundu, Angola, 1880-1920
beautiful beaker shaped pipe bowl with incized decoration on flat foot, Nigeria, 1750-1850
half a dozen of so-called slave pipes in iron with brass stem inlay, Makotimpoko, Congo, 1900-1940
funnel shaped pipe bowl in backed clay with vertical incised lines and a  flat foot, Nigeria, 1700-1850
bi-conical pipe bowl with portrayal on the front, Dogon, Mali, 1800-1900 tubular shaped metal tobacco pipe with multicoloured inlays, Touareg, Mauretanië, 1950-1980
a bowl shape derived from the calabash, decoration filled in with white chalk, Africa, 1850-1900
shape and decoration inspired on a gun part, central-Africa, 1900-1920
conical pipe bowl showing hand modelled figures of a sitting man and a sitting woman, the skin with tatouages, Lobi, Ghana, 1850-1900
a finely carved proverb-pipe showing a hinglock as pipe bowl, Ashanti, Ghana, 1850-1900 remarkable pipe bowl in red clay with a cooking pot on a folding chair, Ashanti, Ghana, 1850-1900
sitting creature in terra cotta, the pipe bowl in the trunk of the person, Frafra, Ghana, 1985-1995
softwood pipe bowl with a negro mask on the front of the bowl, Ghana, 1900-1930
pot shaped ceramic pipe bowl attached to an iron stem, on the wood part a brass ring as decoration, Nigeria, 1900-1940
detail of a figural pipe ot the Lobi tribe with its characteristic facial tatouages, earrings and necklace in glass beads, Lobi, Ghana, 1800-1880
pipe bowl shaped like an animals' head, Sudan, 1900-1940
carefully polished pipe bowl of a human face, Hungana, Congo, 1880-1920 portrait carved in the fine red backing clay, metal bands round the bowl opening and stem end, Yaka, Congo, 1880-1920
pipe bowl shaped as a standing cat, the mouth is the bowl opening, Sudan, 1880-1900
pottery pipe bowl decorated with concentric rings attached on a wooden stem, partly covered with animal skin, Tiv, Nigeria, 1860-1910
carving of a human face and spiders both in strong geometrical stilized way, Kuba, Congo, 1880-1920
large sized pipe de prestige with geometrical carving, Kuba, Congo, 1860-1900
pipe with a negro's head and upgoing stem with geometrical pattern, Kuba, Congo, 1900-1930
traditional Kuba-pipe with geometricale patterns, Kuba, Congo, 1870-1900
All objects on this page are part of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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