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Instruments of addiction are not supposed to be as exquisite as an opium pipe.
Beautifully weighted and impeccably crafted, a 19th-century example from China, whether hewn from rough bamboo or shaped from elegant porcelain and finished with silver, is as sleek and deadly as an antique rifle.
Tobacco was often mixed with opium – known as yang yao, foreign drug, and valued as a medicine and an aphrodisiac.
Eventually, opium was smoked on its own, and this increased as huge amounts arrived from India – from 4,244 chests in 1820 to 40,200 in 1839.
You saw dragons, castles and mythical creatures."This rich quality of the opium experience helped explain its popularity.
A huge number of Chinese men smoked, some occasionally, some daily and some so frequently they were known as yan gui, opium ghosts.
Pipes could have jade or ivory endpieces and were often elaborately decorated.
"I was collecting Chinese erotic art and I read that in most brothels there was also opium smoking," explains Bertholet, now 61. I was lucky enough to buy a fantastic one in Germany and, holding this pipe, I was flabbergasted by its beauty and balance. Then someone said if I had two pipes, I needed a lamp, a tray and other articles.The pipe was usually made of bamboo, but could be covered in tortoiseshell or enamel.Some pipes were made of ebony, others ivory, bone, silver, iron, buffalo or rhinoceros horn, porcelain or jade.Nobody knows quite how Clive of India met his end, but opium was probably involved.
A manic depressive, Clive took the drug for a bowel disorder and may have overdosed.The decorative detail serves the same purpose, while also offering the mind something to explore while high.