Articles

A UNIQUE OBUSE ANGLE PIPE

 

The ancient Indians, throughout both Americas, smoked tobacco and other plants and herbs for pleasure as well as for ceremonial/religious purposes.  In the land that would eventually become North Carolina, the natives burned the weed in stone pipes beginning probably as early as 5,000 BC but the practice of smoking really started to become commonplace during the Woodland Period which began around 1,000 BC.  At some later point in time, a native pipe making craftsman, in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, made this small but unique obtuse angle pipe.

 

There are now well known archaeological and botanical facts that prove the natives, in this country, grew a variety of tobacco known scientifically as Nicotiana rustica and used the plant leaves in their various ceremonies.  There are many accounts by seventeenth and eighteenth European explorers of the Aborigines smoking tobacco.  This was done to summon assistance from their gods so as to invoke war victories over their enemies, for favorable and long lasting peace agreements and to insure bountiful crop harvests.  And there are no reasons not to believe that the same practices were carried out prehistorically.

 

Some of the most beautiful and esthetically pleasing stone smoking pipes, ever made in the Southeast, were carved in the Appalachian Mountains.  With abundant rainfall and fertile valleys, the natives could grow their corn and beans and squash and still have time to make ceremonial objects such as marine shell ornaments, ceremonial celts/axes, zoomorphic pottery and certainly pipes.  Many of these smoking instruments were of the simple elbow style but with perfect artistic balance overall.  There was often no effigy carving or stylistic engraving on many of these pipes – just uncomplicated and streamlined beauty.

 

The implement about which this article is written certainly fits the above category.  It is a very simply made obtuse angle elbow pipe which means the bowl projects, from the stem, at an angle of greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees.  The bowl of this particular pipe is at an angle of approximately 130 degrees from the stem. The stem, itself, is two inches long and slightly diamond shaped in cross section with a deeply indented mouthpiece.  There appears to be considerable wear on the mouthpiece where the pipe was grasped in the smoker’s mouth and teeth many times.  The overall length of this small artifact is three inches which makes it about one-half the length of most obtuse angle pipes.  The bowl is in the form that is usually called a spool or vase shape or, as some collectors call the motif, a knuckle bowl.  The rim of the bowl has a carved raised ring with some fine tally marks encircling the orifice, most of which have been mostly obliterated from many years of being handled by many human hands.  The pipe is made of a high quality and fine grain steatite and still retains much of the ancient polish from its manufacturing time in the AD 1000-1500 range.  It was found in Watauga County, North Carolina in the 1930’s to 1940’s and possibly by the late owner, Dr. George Waynick, Jr.  It stayed in his family collection for seventy to eighty years before being acquired by this writer.

 

This is not a huge or mirror polished or elaborately carved pipe that immediately stops the viewer in his or her tracks.  It is instead a subtly and beautifully made ancient artifact that a person must look at and contemplate its beauty to fully understand the rarity and elegance.  And elegant it certainly is which the original owner, maybe a thousand years ago, must have understood and appreciated.  So many of these ancient pipes were smashed and destroyed either when the aboriginal owner died or by modern agricultural equipment.  But luckily, for us today, neither the ancient natives nor modern plows have desecrated this beautiful pipe – this extraordinary pipe – this simple elegant pipe – this unique obtuse angle pipe.

 

REFERENCES:

Dickens, Roy S.                                                            1976

    CHEROKEE PREHISTORY

Fundaburk, Emma L & Mary D. Foreman                  1957

    SUN CIRCLES AND HUMAN HANDS

Griffin, James B., Editor                                              1952

    ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

Hart, Gordon                                                               1976

    HART’S PREHISTORIC PIPE RACK

Hothem, Lar                                                                1999

    COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO INDIAN PIPES

Litton, Ralph                                                                1924

    USE OF TOBACCO AMONG NORTH AMRICAN INDIANS

Maus, James E.                                                           1991

    “An Engraved Obtuse Angle Alate Pipe”, CENTRAL STAES ACHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL, Vol.38,  

Rafferty, Sean M. & Rob Mann                                  2004

    SMOKING AND CULTURE: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TOBACC O  PIPES IN EASTERN NORTH

    AMERICA   

West. George                                                              1934

    TOBACCO PIPES AND SMOKING CUSTOMS OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS

   

 

 

 

 

 

A UNIQUE OBUSE ANGLE PIPE

 

The ancient Indians, throughout both Americas, smoked tobacco and other plants and herbs for pleasure as well as for ceremonial/religious purposes.  In the land that would eventually become North Carolina, the natives burned the weed in stone pipes beginning probably as early as 5,000 BC but the practice of smoking really started to become commonplace during the Woodland Period which began around 1,000 BC.  At some later point in time, a native pipe making craftsman, in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, made this small but unique obtuse angle pipe.

 

There are now well known archaeological and botanical facts that prove the natives, in this country, grew a variety of tobacco known scientifically as Nicotiana rustica and used the plant leaves in their various ceremonies.  There are many accounts by seventeenth and eighteenth European explorers of the Aborigines smoking tobacco.  This was done to summon assistance from their gods so as to invoke war victories over their enemies, for favorable and long lasting peace agreements and to insure bountiful crop harvests.  And there are no reasons not to believe that the same practices were carried out prehistorically.

 

Some of the most beautiful and esthetically pleasing stone smoking pipes, ever made in the Southeast, were carved in the Appalachian Mountains.  With abundant rainfall and fertile valleys, the natives could grow their corn and beans and squash and still have time to make ceremonial objects such as marine shell ornaments, ceremonial celts/axes, zoomorphic pottery and certainly pipes.  Many of these smoking instruments were of the simple elbow style but with perfect artistic balance overall.  There was often no effigy carving or stylistic engraving on many of these pipes – just uncomplicated and streamlined beauty.

 

The implement about which this article is written certainly fits the above category.  It is a very simply made obtuse angle elbow pipe which means the bowl projects, from the stem, at an angle of greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees.  The bowl of this particular pipe is at an angle of approximately 130 degrees from the stem. The stem, itself, is two inches long and slightly diamond shaped in cross section with a deeply indented mouthpiece.  There appears to be considerable wear on the mouthpiece where the pipe was grasped in the smoker’s mouth and teeth many times.  The overall length of this small artifact is three inches which makes it about one-half the length of most obtuse angle pipes.  The bowl is in the form that is usually called a spool or vase shape or, as some collectors call the motif, a knuckle bowl.  The rim of the bowl has a carved raised ring with some fine tally marks encircling the orifice, most of which have been mostly obliterated from many years of being handled by many human hands.  The pipe is made of a high quality and fine grain steatite and still retains much of the ancient polish from its manufacturing time in the AD 1000-1500 range.  It was found in Watauga County, North Carolina in the 1930’s to 1940’s and possibly by the late owner, Dr. George Waynick, Jr.  It stayed in his family collection for seventy to eighty years before being acquired by this writer.

 

This is not a huge or mirror polished or elaborately carved pipe that immediately stops the viewer in his or her tracks.  It is instead a subtly and beautifully made ancient artifact that a person must look at and contemplate its beauty to fully understand the rarity and elegance.  And elegant it certainly is which the original owner, maybe a thousand years ago, must have understood and appreciated.  So many of these ancient pipes were smashed and destroyed either when the aboriginal owner died or by modern agricultural equipment.  But luckily, for us today, neither the ancient natives nor modern plows have desecrated this beautiful pipe – this extraordinary pipe – this simple elegant pipe – this unique obtuse angle pipe.

 

REFERENCES:

Dickens, Roy S.                                                            1976

    CHEROKEE PREHISTORY

Fundaburk, Emma L & Mary D. Foreman                  1957

    SUN CIRCLES AND HUMAN HANDS

Griffin, James B., Editor                                              1952

    ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

Hart, Gordon                                                               1976

    HART’S PREHISTORIC PIPE RACK

Hothem, Lar                                                                1999

    COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO INDIAN PIPES

Litton, Ralph                                                                1924

    USE OF TOBACCO AMONG NORTH AMRICAN INDIANS

Maus, James E.                                                           1991

    “An Engraved Obtuse Angle Alate Pipe”, CENTRAL STAES ACHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL, Vol.38,  

Rafferty, Sean M. & Rob Mann                                  2004

    SMOKING AND CULTURE: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TOBACC O  PIPES IN EASTERN NORTH

    AMERICA   

West. George                                                              1934

    TOBACCO PIPES AND SMOKING CUSTOMS OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS