Nephrite and metal
Overall: 5.5 cm (2 3/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2012.42
This object is made of nephrite, one of two different mineral species called jade; the other is jadeite.
Carved from a deep green, translucent stone with a highly polished surface, this exquisite example of an extremely rare type of pipe bowl originates from the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. Like the few other known examples, this pipe bowl would have been complemented by a stem, now lost, made from wood or reed or another less durable material. It is believed that such nephrite pipe bowls were copied from stone examples introduced by 17th-century Dutch settlers in the Cape region. In southern Africa, smoking tobacco and taking snuff were and still are enjoyed as activities that establish or solidify harmonious social relationships. In addition to their practical function as smoking devices, pipes of unusual and therefore costly materials and in fancy and refined shapes and forms, like this example, served as markers of rank and status and indicated prestige and socioeconomic prominence.
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