Pipes & Skulls
The smoking pipe is an ancient traditional object used for tobacco and other substances, mostly for healing purposes. The first known pipes (dating back to 2000 BC) were found in the tombs in Ancient Egypt, alongside mummies, so that the mummified person could enjoy a smoke in the afterlife.
Pipes became commonly used to smoke tobacco. In fact, the famous Greek doctor Hyppocrites, the father of medicine, was known to prescribe “smoking herbs in a pipe” to treat certain diseases. The Romans, Greeks, Celts and Nordic cultures all indulged in the smoking of tobacco pipes.
The smoking pipe represented a symbol of peace during The North American Indians ceremonies and was called ‘Calumet’ among the American Indian people, the Sioux. In the centuries that followed these ceremonies, the production of clay and plaster pipes was replaced by briar, a wood formed over 20 years at the root of heather trees. The briar wood seemed more reasonable and the pipes became more heat resistant and users could now enjoy the aroma of the tobacco. From this the modern-day smoking pipe was born and spread globally between 1800 and 1900, all thanks to the industrial production. Pipes are now made from a variety of materials. Some handcrafted high-quality grade pipes are not always used for smoking, but rather collecting.
From the beginning of time, the skull has always represented death and mortality. However, through the cracks of existence, skulls have come to have more symbolism behind them. They are diverse and carry a universal recognition behind them. The Grim Reaper, the personification of Death, also symbolises wisdom greater than humans. Death knows when and how we are going to die, making it wiser than we are.
The skull is also a symbol of divine wisdom and general intelligence. Celtic skull symbolic meanings include transience, power, spirit, new understanding. The skull does hold the brain, and sits at the top of the human body. The Celts viewed the skull to be at the seat of power, and would throw skulls into the sacred wells as offerings. Water purifies and cleanses, and the skull (representing soul and power) could undergo divine clarity, cleansing, bringing about the renewal of the soul. Over the past century, the art of carving skulls out of precious stones, rock and materials as powerful protective charms has been born. They are portrayed and revered as important symbols of wisdom and power.
To the Buddhist, the skull represents emptiness: the key to quality of life. It was worn around the neck and called munda malas.
In ancient India, skulls adorned the bodies of the gods and goddesses, revealing their abilities. Nataraja, an incarnation of Shiva, performs the dance of creation with a garland of skulls, representing the passing of all beings, along with time.
Skulls are significant to many civilisations and religions, and the fascination they invoke is unique, however seemingly morbid. They also invoke a specific quality of calm ideology embracing life.
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