Opium pipe

This pipe made of bamboo is used to smoke opium. Opium has become an important cash crop for many of the hilltribes of northern Thailand, which include the Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lisu and Yao although its cultivation has been illegal since 1959. The additional income enables them to buy staples such as rice, salt, metal and other commodities. Poppies are grown at higher altitudes (around 1200m) and are harvested by women and children, who extract the sap from the pods, over an eight-week period each year. This is used for its medicinal properties and smoked usually by the village elders. To be offered a pipe is considered an honour. Regular use has lead to problems with addiction amongst some groups, while others have preferred stimulants such as tobacco.

Date/Period
Early-mid 20th century
Region
Northern Thailand
Dimension
Object size: L32cm x D1.5cm
Accession No.
1994-00040
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Category
Woodcarving