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Tomahawk pipe with a conventional blade / Native American; Plains


Tomahawk Pipe, conventional blade -- Metal pipe/blade with circle inlays of brass, 2 cut-out designs, etched designs of 2 indians, horse shoe prints and a star; wood stem with brass tacks.

Note with Artifact: “Custer Battle. Picked up while burying dead by John Tompkins, Wash. State. G.A.R. Comanche who died 1937 at age 94.”

The iron/steel axe (tomahawk) rapidly replaced stone axes and became one of the most popular trade goods made available to Native Americans by European traders. The tomahawk pipe was typically made from an ash sapling because of the strength of the wood and the ability to easily hollow the inside for smoking. Iron was often used to make the blade and pipe, though some more expensive pipes were made of steel (Taylor 2001, 31-34).

Tomahawks quickly became the weapon of choice, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries. The tomahawk pipe incorporated both the hatchet-like weapon and pipe into one object, symbolizing a unity of war and peace. This combination made traveling with pipe and weapon easier. By about 1700, specialized forms with spikes or pipes appeared. Addition of the pipe bowl allowed the tomahawk to be either a weapon of war or an important item in ceremonial rites. By 1850 or so, the tomahawk pipe was more used in ceremony than in warfare.

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Tomahawk pipe with a conventional blade
Native American; Plains
late 19th century
Great Plains, United States of America
wood, metal
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
On View

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