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Tomahawk pipe with a buffalo design on the blade / Emil William Lenders


Tomahawk Pipe, conventional blade -- Brass blade/pipe with buffalo design on one side of the blade; wooden handle.

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 buffalo design on the blade
Native American; Ponca
19th century
Great Plains, United States of America
wood, metal
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Emil Lenders Collection
Accession No: 
On View

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