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Unknown Maker
Prestige Pipe Prestige Pipe
20th century 20th century

As in other cultures, African artists create prestige objects to enhance and support their leaders. Kings, chiefs, and elders all commission fine fly whisks, stools, staffs, chairs and other items to signify their status. With the introduction of tobacco to sub-Saharan Africa in the seventeenth century, the Cameroon Grassfields peoples added ceremonial pipes to their list of prestige objects.

Both men and women smoked, using pipes that reflected their social level. While common people used simple terracotta pipes, a chief or king could afford an elaborate metal one as seen here. The bowl features the head of a man with an open-work headdress and puffed-out cheeks, which are often found in Grassfields sculptures and signify a well-fed person. The ceremonial pipe is smoked by the chief while he presides over important rituals or social occasions.

 
Unknown Maker
Grassfields (also called Bamileke) peoples Grassfields (also called Bamileke) peoples
Prestige Pipe Prestige Pipe
20th century 20th century
wood, brass, metal wood, brass, metal
height / width: 42.50 x 7.70 cm; 16.73 x 3.03 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-351

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