West African Pipe
This simple yet elegant pipe comes from West Africa and was made between 1900 and 1950. The stem is wooden and has been carefully smoothed. The bowl is chalice-shaped, with a rather long ‘heel’, as the bottom of the inner chamber is known. The bowl is made from fired black earthenware which the maker has decorated with a geometric pattern of incisions. Two brass rings attach the bowl to the stem.
The practice of smoking cannabis, especially in pipes, was initiated in Africa at least 700 years ago. Waterpipes for cannabis, also known as bongs, are an African invention. ‘Dry’ pipes, such as this one, would have been used for cannabis and tobacco. Cannabis was traded on the African continent since at least the 1600s and was a profitable cash crop under the colonial regimes until it was banned in almost the entire continent in 1920.
The changing tide of attitudes to cannabis has seen various African countries re-legalise it, to greater or lesser extents. Lesotho was the first, in 2008. Since then, South Africa, Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, eSwatini, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have followed suit.