Figural Tobacco Pipe

Figural Tobacco Pipe


Region / Tribe: Northern Great Lakes / Ojibwa, Metis’Cree

Circa: Mid 19th Century

Material: Black stone

Dimension: L. 5” x H. 2 ½” x W. 1 ¾”

Collection History: Believed to have been acquired in England. Recently acquired in the Southwest.


-Ewers, John. Plains Indian Sculpture. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986. (pp. 85-86, Fig. 63)

-Coe, Ralph T. Sacred Circles. Kansas City, Missouri: Nelson Gallery of Art – Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, 1977. (p. 100, Plate 166 &167. See also plate 493 for a portrait pipe attributed to the Sioux and perhaps of the same individual.)

-Personal Correspondence: Photo – British Museum (# 3 below) William Bragge col. Acquisition date 1882 Ojibwa. Courtesy W. Nevius.

Condition: Excellent, rich patina, no restoration

Comments: This is a large and imposing pipebowl with highly refined realistic portraiture. The personage is a non-native, there is a strong possibility that the individual depicted was a central figure in the fur trade, perhaps a factor in the employ of the Hudson Bay Co. The enigmatic teeth-bared smiling expression appears in similar form on the three examples in the British Museum referenced below and shown as the last image in the slideshow above. The present example appears to be made by the same hand as #’s 1 & 4  below, # 3 below appears to be the same individual carved by a different hand.

Pipebowls in referenced image:

-Christie Col (collected in 1868) (left)

-Trotta-Bono (center left)

-Bragge Col (center)

-British Museum (center right)

-Sotheby’s – 11/30/1995 – Inscribed “William” (right)

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