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Subject:Old bamboo pipe identification help
Posted By: noizex Sat, Aug 31, 2019 IP:

Over a decade ago I came into possession of an interesting pipe - if I recall well the seller was saying it was Burmese opium pipe partially made of jadeite. I'd like to somehow renovate the pipe but I wonder if that's really what he said to be, is there any reference to this kind of pipes etc? Maybe someone knows anything, I recently found this forum and thought I may just as well try asking...

Pipe is in rather good shape except horns of the dragon which seem to be slightly broken/missing. The red "fruit" in dragon's jaws seem to be painted red as in one spot it peeled off uncovering similar green material as other "jadeite-like" parts of the pipe?

Posting quick photos, if this is interesting enough I can make some better ones with more appropriate lighting conditions.

Subject:Re: Old bamboo pipe identification help
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Aug 31, 2019

Don't apologize for your photos and I'll keep quiet about the issues with mine. Your bamboo pipe is similar to but a bit more touristy than this one I brought back from a three year embassy assignment in Burma. It came with a mundane clay pipe, so I decided to dress it up with a fancy Chinese antique porcelain bowl and more modern ivory mouthpiece.

Your description of "jadeite-like" is well justified. Looks like a dyed stone, perhaps soapstone or serpentine. A scratch test in an inconspicuous spot with a carbon steel knife might prove it's softer than true jade, if your own visceral feeling doesn't tell the story well enough.

The silver or silver-plate saddle and the ring around the mouthpiece look fairly good, possibly done by the Shan in Burma or their Thai cousins in Chiangmai, who might have made the pipe as well. Last time I was in Thailand more than 20 years ago, there was a tourist village in the Golden Triangle where you could find all sorts of faux opium antiques like this.

If you're thinking of collecting opium paraphernalia seriously, there's a good but scarce book, if you can find it, called "The Art of Opium Antiques" by Steven Martin. Amazon has a few copies but at premium prices.

Best regards,

Bill H. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |