Until cigarettes became common in the twentieth century, locally grown tobacco was smoked in pipes by many men and women in the Grasslands of western Cameroon. Among the Bamum, as among other peoples in that area, only royalty had the right to own brass tobacco pipes. This connection with leadership is emphasized by the elephant head on the bottom of the pipe’s bowl; because of its power and strength, the elephant is a traditional symbol of the king. Another reference to power—this time to Germany, the colonial ruler of Cameroon until after World War I—is the representation of the head of a German officer, which forms the pipe’s bowl.
Bamum kingdom, Cameroon
L. 11 ¾ in. (29.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Ernst Anspach, 75.25.4