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Pipe in Four Pieces, Part of War Outfit

Arts of the Americas

Tobacco, indigenous to the Americas, has been smoked, chewed, and pulverized for inhaling by Native people for thousands of years. The act of smoking is believed to connect the physical and spiritual worlds as the smoke spirals its way from earth to sky carrying prayers and blessings. The ancient panther effigy pipe displayed nearby may depict the Underwater Panther, a mystical beast with great power that was thought to live in the underworld realm.

Historically, pipes such as the one seen here were used for personal, communal, ceremonial, and political purposes. This example is said to have belonged to the Lakota leader Red Cloud, and may have been used during alliance-building ceremonies. Today, pipes are considered sacred when they are activated by joining the stem and bowl.

In the seventeenth century, British colonists understood the export value of tobacco, establishing vast plantations that resulted in the expulsion of Native people from their ancestral homelands and the introduction of slave labor from Africa.
MEDIUM Wood, catlinite, lead inlay
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES 1850–1890
    DIMENSIONS approximate overall: 33 x 5 1/2 x 1 3/4 in. (83.8 x 14 x 4.4 cm) a) wooden mouthpiece: 1 1/8 x 1 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (2.9 x 3.2 x 23.5 cm) b) stone stem piece with inlay: 7/8 x 1 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. (2.2 x 3.8 x 40 cm) c) wooden stem piece: 1 1/8 x 1 1/2 x 9 in. (2.9 x 3.8 x 22.9 cm) d) stone bowl: 5 1/2 x 1 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (14 x 4.8 x 20 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    ACCESSION NUMBER 26.801a-d
    CREDIT LINE Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Catlinite L-shaped pipe with catlinite stem with two inserts from carved wood on either end. The wood is carved in relief with the figures of an antelope on one piece and an elk head on the other. There is metal inlay along the catlinite stem. Among the material purchased as belonging to Red Cloud. Condition: good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Oglala, Lakota, Sioux. Pipe in Four Pieces, Part of War Outfit, 1850–1890. Wood, catlinite, lead inlay, approximate overall: 33 x 5 1/2 x 1 3/4 in. (83.8 x 14 x 4.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 26.801a-d. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 26.801a-d_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 26.801a-d_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2020
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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