If it is not too late – Happy New Year! We’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and you may have thought we were not up to much, but things have been very busy. Back in November the Archive was invited by the Académie Internationale de la Pipe to give a paper at their conference, which was being held in Japan at the Tobacco and Salt Museum in Tokyo. This was the perfect opportunity, and setting, for us to present a report on how the Historic England project that we have been working on has been progressing, and to highlight some of the Archive’s collections.
The whole smoking culture in Japan is very different from here. The pipes look completely different – called Kiseru – and the tobacco is also very different, being incredibly finely shredded.
As part of the conference we were very lucky to have been given the opportunity to visit a traditional kiseru maker in Tsubame.
He makes his pipes out of metal. The basic pattern is cut out of metal and then the maker painstakingly hammers them into shape. In order to help us understand the process he had a series of different stages of the process laid out for us. Gradually the pipe emerges from a flat piece of metal into a full formed pipe.
The whole process is far too time consuming for him to show us the production of a pipe from start to finish during the short time we had with him, but he did allow us to film him at work (see the video below). This gave a chance to get a feel for how it was done.
Some Kiseru are made completely out of metal, but others have a metal bowl and metal mouthpiece section, with a simple bamboo stem in between. We have two such examples in the Archive’s collection.
The first example is from the Cole Collection (LIVNP 2014.03.099). This pipe has not been hand crafted as the examples we saw in Tsubame, but has been cast. Both the bowl and the mouthpiece have intertwined animals. The stem is made of bamboo.
The second example is from the Orlik Collection (LIVNP 2016.13.01). This pipe also has a bamboo stem and but this time the bowl and mouthpiece are made of silver, which has been engraved with flowers.
Since we have been back we have been working hard on the Archive website; putting up lots more pages with even more pipe information. There is still more to come and now we are back, regular posts will resume.