With folk art the aspect of ever changing fashions transfers in tradition. No changes occur, habits are kept as they were. For pipes and the smoking habit this means that styles of pipes remain the same frequently within regional boundaries. To this category the so-called Trachtenpfeifchen belongs, a traditional short pipe characteristic for Germany and Austria, as well as the long Gouda clay pipe. Both pipes are no longer chosen by the younger generation but only by those who are traditional.
The ultimate example of Dutch folklore habits is the bridegroom's pipe. This phenomenon was common in the eastern parts of Holland, but it is also known in other regions. Offering a pipe to the bridegroom at the day of the wedding is for instance also common at the isle of Marken till the 1920's. The pipe decorated with silk flowers was smoked on the wedding day and was preserved afterwards in the Sunday's room of the house. Only on the anniversary day of the wedding the pipe was smoked again, with great caution because people believed that the marriage would be over when the pipe got broken.
Folk art is also the preservation of habits that are about to vanish. The Marker fisherman kept smoking a clay pipe for a rather long time keeping up an old tradition. This was done for the tourists to match with the appearance of the Dutch not only wearing wooden shoes but also smoking long clay pipes. A habit based more on economic profit than on idealistic or folk feelings.
Also in other countries the pipe is kept in use as a folk item. De Belgian and French farmers liked to smoke a Jacob pipe, the bowl showing the head of a bearded man, wearing a turban, referring to Jacob from the bible.
In Germany the long stemmed pipe with the separate oval pipe bowl has been popular for several generations. This so-called Gesteckpfeife with a bowl in wood, is smoked by farmers or simple craftsmen. This type of pipe suits very well with a Tiroler outfit.
Also today the tobacco pipe still plays a role in the local traditions. Unfortunately, while these habits are gradually forgotten, more often the wrong pipes are chosen, not matching with the role of the person.
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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