The Xhosa people of Southern Africa are famous for their hand carved pipes, particularly the long pipes smoked by their women. Coarse Boer plug tobacco was a standby of the local trading stores and both men and women carried elaborately beaded cloth bags in which to carry tobacco, matches and other small personal possessions, since tribal dress had no pockets.
Both of these pipes, one for a man and one for a woman, are beaded in the typical white and turquoise blue favoured by the Galequa sub-tribe and were reserved for ceremonial occasions when they would compliment a special status costume worn for formal dances and special events.
The pipes are carved by men from one piece of wood , with the bowls lined with tin from an old can to preserve them from burning out too quickly. The pipes are then beaded by the womenfolk. They were smoked by inserting a reed mouthpiece into the end of the stem (practical, as the reed could be easily replaced when it clogged). Xhosa pipes are made by using a stem and part of the branch it grows out of. Once the bowl is carved, a hole is them burned though the stem into it using a red hot wire. The disposable mouthpiece, which is is made from a piece of reed . is thrown away when it becomes clogged with tar. Xhosa women smoke long stem pipes, Xhosa men short pipes.
The woman's pipe offered heres one of the prettiest long stem pipes I have ever seen. It is smaller and more slender than usual and covered with white and blue beads, with an elegant twisted string of each colour at either end of the stem. Length of stem 15 cm/ 6 inches, height of bowl 6.5 cm /2½ inches.
The short stemmed. heavier and fully beaded example is a man;s pipe covered in blue and white beads and would have been part of a fully beaded regalia worn oin special occasions. Stem 16 cm /6 ½ inches, bowl 10cm /4 inches.