Zande pipe

Zande pipe
Other views of this artifact:

Accession Number:
1884.101.43 .1 .2
[Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Date Made:
?Before 1865
Wood Plant , Terracotta Pottery , Pottery , Animal Hide Skin , Animal Sinew , Pigment
Carved , Stained , Handbuilt , Incised , Inlaid , Stitched Tooled
L = 558 mm, max W wooden stem = 29.5 mm, opening = 15 mm; ceramic bowl L = 126 mm, top socket = 32 by 30.2 mm, mouth opening = 34 mm, W rim = 45.3 by 44 mm, th walls = 5 mm; W sinew thread = 1 mm [RTS 28/9/2004].
420.6 g
Local Name:
Other Owners:
Collected by John Petherick in 1858 and shipped back to England in 1859. Subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, perhaps via auction as Petherick is known to have auctioned some of his collection through Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862
Field Collector:
John Petherick
PRM Source:
Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers founding collection
Donated 1884
Collected Date:
Composite tobacco pipe consisting of a curved wooden stem with circular section [.2]; this has been cut flat across the top edge and carved out to form a hollow pipe. Shaving marks are visible on the outer surface, where the yellowish brown wood (Pantone 7508C) has been stained a darker brown colour (Pantone 440C). A ceramic bowl has been fitted onto the end of this stem [.1], and the junction of the two elements obscured by a rectangular strip of animal hide, yellowish brown in colour (Pantone ), with traces of short buff animal hair preserved in patches. This strip has been wrapped around the lower part of the stem, with the ends just touching and sewn together using sinew thread. A gap has been left where the pottery bowl extends outwards from the body, with the end of the hide strip folded up and over the curved base of the bowl. No stitches are visible at this point, and the hide may have been simply folded, damped and then shrunken into place. Two slits have been cut into the back of the hide piece, parallel to one another, and there are gouge marks visible in the clay below. This may have been used to seat an attachment, such as a cord. The surface of the hide appears to have been tooled with a narrow blade that has left short horizontal marks covering the surface, particularly on its upper part.

The ceramic bowl section [.1] consists of a slightly curved, hollow cylindrical body, the upper part of which has been fitted onto the end of the wooden stem, the lower part of which ends with a rounded, closed base. This area is obscured by its hide covering. The bowl itself projects at an acute angle from one side, almost halfway down the length; this has almost straight sides that taper out slightly to a narrow, flat-topped rim, and is circular in plan view. This part is made of a moderately well levigated fabric, fired dark gray just below the surface and on the interior walls. The exterior surface has been covered in a fine slip, fired a deep red and highly burnished (Pantone 478C). The visible part of the bowl has been decorated with incised hatching around the outer edge of the rim, then a broad section of crosshatching covering its lower part, interrupted by a band of vertical hatching framed by horizontal lines above and below, that runs horizontally across the centre of this area. The decoration on the lower body has been filled with white pigment, and there are traces of similar pigment visible in some of the rim incisions as well.

It seems likely that this pipe is not complete, as it might be expected to have a separate mouthpiece, and the hide slits imply the presence of a cord at some stage, probably to aid carrying or hanging the object. It still smells strongly of tobacco. The stem part is complete, but has some cracks near the top; the ceramic bowl is complete except for some damage to the back of its vertical part; the hide covering is nearly complete, but has some holes near the junction of pipe stem and bowl. The object weighs 420.6 grams, and has a length of 558 mm. The wooden part has a maximum width of 29.5 mm, while the top opening is 15 mm wide; the ceramic bowl measures 32 by 30.2 mm across its top socket, and 45.3 by 44 mm across the rim, with a mouth opening 34 mm in diameter; it is 126 mm long and the walls are 5 mm thick. The sinew thread is 1 mm wide.

Collected by John Petherick, a businessman who lived in Khartoum from 1853 to 1858, mounting several trading expeditions into the Sudanese interior during this period. He entered Zande territory for the first time on 24th February 1858, while on his fifth such expedition, visiting the villages of Mundo, Kangamboo and Baranj. This object was probably collected during this trip, as Petherick did not venture into this region again. His collection was shipped back to England in 1859. This object was subsequently acquired by Pitt Rivers, probably at the auction of Petherick's collection collection conducted by Mr Bullock of High Holborn, London, on 27th June 1862 (see
The Catalogue of the very interesting collection of arms and implements of war, husbandry, and the chase, and articles of costume and domestic use, procured during several expeditions up the White Nile, Bahr-il-Gazal, and among the various tribes of the country, to the cannibal Neam Nam territory on the Equator, by John Petherick, Esq., H.M. Consul, Khartoum, Soudan). 36 Sudanese pipes were included in this auction, as parts of various mixed lots. Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display, probably in 1874; it was later displayed in the South Kensington Museum and eventually transferred from there to form part of the Pitt Rivers Museum founding collection in 1884.

Petherick said that the Zande 'were great smokers of tobacco, of their own growth, mixed with the rind of the banana, also indigenous to the country’ (J. Petherick 1861,
Egypt, The Sudan and Central Africa, p. 466). Evans-Pritchard discusses the history of clay tobacco pipes amongst the Zande, based on the writings of Schweinfurth, Piaggia and Czekanowski. He adds that the small bowl into which a long wooden stem is fitted, as here, is called Mbomu ; this term presumably derives from his own fieldwork between 1926 and 1930. Both types were illustrated by Schweinfurth. The pipe bowl may have been made by a male potter, as according to Evans-Pritchard, all Zande potters were of that sex (Evans-Pritchard 1971, The Azande, pp 95-96)..

Larken also discusses Zande pipes: "Tobacco pipes vary from the big kind three feet in length ... to the more portable one a third of this size. The bowls are well made of pottery... the stem is of hollowed wood, the joint between it and the bowl being sometimes lapped with leather. The mouthpiece is the stone of the
akua palm fruit ( Ar. dom ) from which the kernel has been removed and replaced by a mass of fibre obtained by scraping the stalk of a plant. Sometimes tobacco is lacking ... and this packing of fibre is used instead, all soaked as it is in nicotine and saliva... [the Zande word for tobacco] is gbakara or bagbuduma " (P.M. Larken, 1926, "An Account of the Zande", Sudan Notes and Records IX no. 1, p. 92). One might wonder, from this description, whether the pipe catalogued here originally had such a mouthpiece.

Rachael Sparks 29/8/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Accession Book V entry - [p. 33] [ insert] 1884.101 [end insert] SMOKING PIPES. [p. 34, insert] 43 [end insert] 110.o. - Large wooden pipe with terra cotta bowl, with forward basal protruberance, & stout curved stem of a branch, socketed into the pottery stem & secured with a sewn skin cover passing over the projection with a hole through which the bowl passes. NIAM NAM [sic] (?ZANDE). Petherick coll.
Additional Accession Book V Entry [p. opposite 34] - o. [drawing].
Black book entry [p. 82] - C[ase] 2. 1876. Pipe, Neam-nam [sic] tribe, Cent. Africa. Obtd by Petherick (311-) [last number illegible, 0?]. [insert] 1884.101.43 [end insert].
Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the tribes catalogue card [RTS 10/2/2004].
Delivery Catalogue II entry [p. 230] - Combs Pipes etc [p. 233]. Large pipe with wood stem. Central Africa. 1876.3110, [screen?] 109 [Case?] 284.
Detailed Pipes [Unsorted] Card Catalogue entry - Number: 110. Description: Large tobacco pipe [insert] label in case reads "Tobacco pipe with large pottery bowl and curved wooden stem, fixed to the bowl partly by means of a rawhide covering". Heavy pot-shaped bowl with large rounded projection in front and thick tubular stem piece, made of pottery, the bowl dark red in colour with incised and whitened cross hatching in front at base and on projection, projection stem piece and an area of stem sheathed in hide, sewed on to it. Long thick and slightly upcurved stem of wood a dark red brown in colour (mouthpiece end cracked slightly). Length across curve c 55.5 cm. Bowl height (rim - projection base) c 11.1 cm, outer width of rim (max) 4.5 cm, rim ornamented with a row of little nicks running round it. Original paper label contained within pipe bowl [note that this is no longer the case, but a paper label with '110' has been stuck to the hide covering; RTS 28/9/2004]. People: Neam-Nam tribe (Niam Niam). Locality: Central Africa. Collected by: Consul Petherick. How Acquired: PR coll [Drawing].
Pre-PRM label - 110 [paper tag stuck to object; torn down centre and second digit not clear; RTS 28/9/2004].
Old Pitt Rivers Museum label? - There is a large rectangular 'shadow' on the front face of the pipe, where a label appears to have been stuck at some stage; this is now missing. It may have been the 'original paper label' that the pipes catalogue card mentions being at one time stored inside the pipe bowl [RTS 28/9/2004].
Written on object -
NEAM-NAM TRIBE, CENTRAL AFRICA, Petherick's coll. P.R. coll..... [RTS 28/9/2004].

Display History:
Displayed in the Bethnal Green and South Kensington Museums (V&A) [AP].

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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