Wednesday, August 18, 2021


A pleasant fellow on one of the pipe-forums misidentified an item as a "Chinese Opium Waterpipe". It's a common mistake that speaks of both innocence and praeconceptions.
Not all Chinese smoking equipment was intended for the consumption of opium.

Here are some illustrations.

Opium pipe schematic

Chinese water pipes for nicotiana rustica

Common peasant water pipe for tobacco

Điếu Cày for smoking thuốc lào (n. rustica), Vietnamese water pipe

To consume opium, a blob of resin (congealed latex from the seed pod of the opium poppy) is heated over a flame till it bubbles, and the vapours are inhaled. Both nicotiana rustica and nicotiana tabacum are enjoyed by setting fire to the material and sucking in the smoke.

Opium, like hashish, can be mixed with tobacco for combustive use. This is not as common as one might think, and cheap western pipes are best in that regard.

Those long bamboo pipes with small metal bowls that you can barely fit a finger into are for the sparing use of tobacco, exactly like the Japanese kiseru.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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