Friday, April 13, 2012

Jade bases for a Huqqa pipe (India AD 1700)

"These are the bases of a pair of fine huqqa pipes, no doubt once belonging to an individual of considerable wealth. The main body of each bowl is green jade, encrusted with darker green jade, blue lapis lazuli, and rubies, set in a trellis pattern outlined with gold wire. The bowls sit in tall three-footed mounts, made of green marble and ormulu. 

They were produced in London around 1790 by a French refugee craftsman, fleeing the regime established in France after the French Revolution. It was once common for Islamic objects to be set in European frames or mounts when acquired by European owners"

"The huqqa pipe, or 'hubble-bubble', is a tall standing pipe which can be found all over the Islamic world today. It is used for smoking tobacco, which was introduced to India in the late sixteenth century. The tobacco is placed in a cup on top of the pipe, and lit. When the smoker inhales, the smoke is drawn from the smouldering tobacco, down through the body of the pipe, bubbling through a bowl of water at the bottom, and up into a long thin tube which is held to the mouth. The heavy base which contains the water can be made from glass, metal or jade."

Description courtesy of the British Museum

© Trustees of the British Museum

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