The most explicit culture of pipe smoking is to be found in Cameroon. Each tribe has its own traditional decorations and strict regulations who is allowed to smoke which pipes. Woman for instance may smoke the pipes decorated with geometric patterns; they are not allowed to use pipes with antropomorphic and figural decorations.
The largest pipes, with bowls up to half a meter in height, are greatly appreciated gifts for the chiefs. They are not in use for smoking, but serve as an object of status to be carried around during ceremonies and official meetings.
Ceramic is the most common material for making pipes, moulded by women and backed in primitive field kilns. This tradition survives till nowadays and there still exists an important production of pipes in traditional styles as well as in modern shapes. Hence, it is not very easy to date the Cameroon pipes.
Cameroon also has a well- developed craft of bronze casting used for pipes, next to the ceramic ones. Particularly interesting are the pipes depicting German soldiers. These are made from early twentieth century onwards, when the Germans were colonising Cameroon. The most striking feature of these pipes are the military caps, pointed noses and in the larger examples, the rifle.
A rare example in a traditional shape is an aluminium pipe, dating from the 1970s. This pipe, completely cast in metal, shows in one material the bowl style of a ceramic pipe and the stem part in wood and iron.
All objects on this page are part of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
© copyright Amsterdam Pipe Museum - Pijpenkabinet Foundation, the Netherlands