Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pipe, not pipe...wait a minute--pipe!

The Chokwe peoples occupy the broad expanse of open savanna in present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Chokwe chiefs became increasingly involved in trade with Europeans who sought rubber, wax, and ivory as well as African slaves for their colonies in the New World. Slaves were often exchanged for firearms, and these were employed in raids on neighboring peoples that produced more captives to sell to European traders. Local leaders who prospered from this exchange frequently commissioned prestige items from local artisans to indicate their wealth and power. This tobacco pipe is one such item that demonstrates the degree to which warfare, the slave trade, and elite arts were intertwined at this time. The pipe itself was the prerogative of individuals who could afford expensive imported tobacco, generally by trading slaves, while the rifle refers to the means by which such slaves were acquired.
 From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.  Click to read full article.

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