Blog by Steve Laug
A few months ago Jeff sent me an interesting bowl in one of the boxes of pipes he mailed to me. The bowl itself is quite big and it has a flat base on it so that it readily stands up. We had no idea what it had originally looked like but the patterns on the bowl and base made it an interesting piece. I figured I might use it for holding matches, cotton swabs or pipe cleaners. It was made of clay and was dark – I am not sure what the original colour of the bowl was but it was unique enough that I wanted to hang on to it. I put it on the shelf above my work desk and honestly forgot about it. Then one day a couple of weeks ago I moved it to get a customs declaration form that I needed and got captured by it once more. I decided to take some photos of the bowl and post them on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group on Facebook and see if anyone there could help me identify the pipe and give me any information. Here are the photos that I posted there. I received an answer from a fellow pipe restorer on the group going by the name Etienne Spasm. He wrote: For me it looks like a Chibouk. It was a kind of clay pipe with long wood stem used in the Ottoman Empire. Try to google it, you’ll see.
A lot of back and forth interchanges went on with regard to what was smoked in the pipe. Some said pot. Some said Opium. But another fellow going by the name of Lighthouse Pipes wrote this: I disagree that this pipe was meant for opium, the bowl is far too big. So, it’s a lily shaped bowl this could mean that is from Syria and it has a disk base this could mean that is from the Ottoman period – but not Venetian, because Venetian clay pipe with the disk base would have 3 holes from the bowl to the shank. (He included an interesting and informative link referencing page 11 of the document: http://philippe.gosse.pagesperso-orange.fr/Chio…/intro.pdf)
Encouraged by the response I went on Google and looked the Chibouk pipe.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibouk A chibouk (French: chibouque; from the Turkish: çıbık, çubuk (English: “stick”) (Bosnian: “Čibuk”); also romanized čopoq, ciunoux or tchibouque) is a very long-stemmed Turkish tobacco pipe, often featuring a clay bowl ornamented with precious stones. The stem of the chibouk generally ranges between 4 and 5 ft., much longer than even Western churchwarden pipes. While primarily known as a Turkish pipe, the chibouk was once popular in Iran, as well.
I suppose I may never know for sure the provenance of this old clay pipe but I like to think it is indeed a Chibouk Pipe. I don’t know if I will ever make a long shank and mouth piece like the one in the photo above but it is an interesting piece of pipe history. I decided to clean it up and post the process photos. I cleaned the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I scrubbed it and rinsed it under warm water and watched the grime and dirt go down the drain in a swirl. I decided to rub the clay bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the clay with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. It was definitely experimental to try it on clay but it worked. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. This was a very interesting historical piece that gave me some enjoyment doing the research. To know that somehow the pipe made it from Turkey or Iran to the east coast of the US and then to Idaho in the west and up to Vancouver, BC on the west coast of Canada is fascinating. It is another one of those times that I wish it could talk to me. Someday perhaps I will find a suitable stem and shank for the pipe but until then it will occupy a spot in my pipe cabinet holding matches. I polished the bowl with a soft microfiber cloth to raise the shine. The old clay pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich dark brown and grey finish looked pretty good. The carved features on the bands around the rim top, bowl and shank look very nice. This old Chibouk was another fun pipe to work on because of the rich history that is holds. Its unique shape and size make it quite an interesting piece of tobacciana. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 3 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 2 inches. If you have any more information on the pipe please let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting piece to bring back to life. Perhaps one day I can put a shank and stem on it and smoke a bowl.