A couple of interesting quotes on pipes, especially among the Cherokee:

 Timberlake describes the types of materials used in pipe construction.  Of note is the use of what was possibly red pipestone, or catlinite, and the use of porcupine quills to decorate the stem:

Timberlake, Henry, and Samuel Cole Williams. Lieut. Henry Timberlake’s Memoirs: 1756-1765. Signal Mountain, Tenn: Mountain Press, 2001.  Page 39:

“During this dance the peace-pipe was prepared, the bowl of it was of red stone, curiously cut with a knife, it being very soft, tho’ extremely pretty when polished. Some of these are of black stone, and some of the same earth they make their pots with, but beautifully diversified. The item is about three feet long, finely adorned with porcupine quills, dyed feathers, deers hair, and such like gaudy trifles. ” (page 39)

The warlike arms used by the Cherokees are guns, bows and arrows, darts, scalping- ping-knives, and tommahawkes, which are hatchets; the hammer-part of which being made hollow, and a small hole running from thence along the shank, terminated by a small brass-tube for the mouth, makes a compleat pipe. There are various ways of making these, according to the country or fancy of the purchaser, being all made by the Europeans, some have a long spear at top, and some different conveniencies on each side. This is one of their most useful pieces of field-furniture, serving all the offices of hatchet, pipe, and sword; neither are the Indians less expert at throwing it than using it near, but will kill at a considerable distance. (pp. 52-53)


Excerpted from James Adair’s History of the American Indians, pp 423-424 – the 1775 Archive.org version available on:

They make beautiful stone pipes; and the Cheerake the best of any of the Indians, for their mountainous country contains many different sorts and colours of soils proper for such uses. They easily form them with their tomohawks, and afterward finish them in any desired form with their knives, the pipes being of a very soft quality till they are smoked with, and used to the fire, when they become quite hard. They are often a full span long, and the bowls are about half as large again as those of our English pipes.

“The fore part of each commonly runs out with a sharp peak, two or three fingers broad, and a quarter of an inch thick on both sides of the bowl. Lengthwise, they cut several pictures with a great deal of skill and labour such as a buffalo and a panther on the opposite sides of the bowl; a rabbit and a fox, and, very often, a man and a woman puris naturalibus. Their sculpture cannot much be commended for its modesty.

“The savages work so slow that one of their artists is two months at a pipe, with his knife, before he finishes it. Indeed, as before observed, they are great enemies to profuse sweating, and are never in a hurry about a good thing.

“The stems are commonly made of soft wood about two feet long, and an inch thick, cut into four squares, each scooped till they join very near the hollow of the stem. The beaus always hollow the squares, except a little at each corner to hold them together, to which they fasten a parcel of bell-buttons, different sorts of fine feathers, and several small battered pieces of copper kettles hammered, round deer-skin thongs, and a red painted scalp. This is a boasting, valuable, and superlative ornament. According to their standard, such a pipe constitutes the superior, a grand beau. They so accurately carve, or paint hieroglyphic characters on the stem, that all the war-actions, and the tribe of the owner, with a great many circumstances of things, are fully delineated. This may seem strange to those who are unacquainted with the ancient skill of the Egyptians this way, and the present knowledge of the Turkish mutes. But so it is, and there is not perhaps the like number of mimic mutes on the face of the earth, nor ever were among the old Greek or Roman Pantomimi, as with the Indian Americans, for representing the great and minute things of life, by different gestures, movements of the body, and expressive countenances, and at the same time they are perfectly understood by each other.”

And page 7, where he is describing clothing:

The men wear, for ornament, and the conveniencies of hunting, thin deer-skin boots, well smoked, that reach so high up their thighs, as with their jackets to secure them from the brambles and braky thickets. They sew them about five inches from the edges, which are formed into toffels, to which they fasten fawns trotters, and small pieces of tinkling metal, or wild turkey-cock-spurs. The beaus used to fasten the like to their war-pipes, with the addition of a piece of an enemy’s scalp with a tuft of long hair hanging down from the middle of the stem, each of them painted red: and they still observe that old custom, only they choose bell-buttons, to give a greater sound. (p. 7)

Full bibliographic information: Adair, James,  History of the American Indians…. 1775. London.  Edward and Charles Dilly, Publisher.

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