Bamum Chief’s Bronze Smoking Pipe
Kings, chiefs and elder dignitaries in the kingdoms of the grasslands (northwestern Cameroon) possessed such ceremonial and prestige tobacco pipes.
Origin: Banjoun Chiefdom, Grassfields, Cameroon
Exact Age: 1944
Materials: Bronze, glass beads
Dimensions cm: 75 long x 20 wide
Ref. Number: 1643
A gorgeous Bamum chief’s bronze smoking pipe in the form of an elephant, tusks used as they stand, an intricate bird surmounted on the pipe bowl and beautifully beaded up the drawing stem. Incised decoration all over this lovely item, the casting of this is purely for royalty.
Provenance: This was made for the “chief Ngne Kamga” in 1944, and was collected from the Bajoun Chiefdom by Abdoulai A Gbetnkom over 40 years ago.
The pipes of the Bamum people are used to smoke tobacco. Everyone can own and use a pipe as it is not restricted to the higher ranking members of the society. However, how the pipes look varies depending on the status of the owner. Women carry small, simple clay pipes. Men’s pipes vary depending on their social status. The higher ranking pipes are generally made of ivory and other finer materials while the simple pipes are often clay. Geometric shapes on the pipes are generally for more common men. Zoomorphic designs and pipes based on animals from around the region, such as different kinds of birds and game, were prestige objects for important me. Anthropomorphic designs were said to be reserved for royal families and the highest elite in the societies. Also, the royal treasury contains the pipes of the deceased chiefs.
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