Artifact of the Day for June 5th, 2017 — Turk’s Head effigy pipe

We made great strides in lab today, eliminating our backlog of washing and making sure everything is ready for cataloguing once dry. We also managed to knock out the catalogue of several contexts, which is thrilling! Check out the update to the spittoon post, as today’s lab session added a vital piece of information!

We also can’t believe we are in the last week of the field school. This week we are joined by some members of the Peterborough Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society. One of the places they are excavating is in the middle of the structure, where today they recovered:

Turk's head kaolin pipe bowl.
Turk’s Head kaolin pipe bowl.
Turk's Head kaolin pipe bowl.
Turk’s Head kaolin pipe bowl.

This is what is known as an effigy pipe or a portrait pipe. This version depicts a turbaned man with a long moustache. It is likely a representation of a Turk’s Head.

Turkey (especially the Turkish or Ottoman Empire) has long been associated with ‘exotic’ practices such as the Turkish bath, and consumables such as coffee, sweets, opium, and tobacco, especially by the Victorian Era.

The Crimean War during the 1850s popularized Turkish tobacco, and it was common in large private houses for gentlemen to retreat after dinner to a Smoking Room, usually decorated with Turkish themes, weapons, and heavy velvet curtains. The men would change out of their formal tail coats into velvet smoking jackets and caps, designed to absorb odours and protect clothing.

While this custom was likely not extensively practiced in the early Euro-Canadian settlement of Ontario, the association of the Turkish Empire with fine tobacco surely was present.

Illustration of a Turk's head pipe that closely matches the one recovered. Image from Kenyon and Kenyon, 2008
Illustration of a Turk’s head pipe that closely matches the one recovered. Image from Kenyon and Kenyon, 2008

Turk’s head pipes were most popular from 1820 to 1880. The other kaolin pipes we have found from this site have come from McDougall (Glasgow), and Henderson (Montreal). Henderson pipes date from 1846-1876. McDougall pipes date from 1846-1891. While I haven’t been able to pin down a manufacturer for our pipe, I have found references suggesting Henderson made effigy pipes.

This pipe was slip-cast in a two-piece mold, each half of the mold generating one half of the finished pipe. You can see in the illustration and in our artifact the seam line from the mold.