Yuchi Pipe Making

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Fig. 10. Pipe Borer (a) and Polishing Stone (b)
Fig. 10. Pipe Borer (a) and Polishing Stone (b)

A large number of tobacco pipes of clay, sacu’yud?c’, ‘earth pipes’ (Fig. 11), were formerly made and used by the Yuchi. The variety in form shown by these pipes indicates that at an earlier time work in clay must have been a rather important activity with them. It seems that pipe making was, and is yet to a limited extent, practiced by the men. Clay is prepared in the manner described before for pots, and made into lengths about an inch in diameter. With a knife, cylinders of various lengths are cut out which are to be bent and hollowed into desired forms for the pipes. This shaping is done with the knife, the sides being shaved down round or square and the angles squared to suit the artisan’s taste. The narrower end is twisted at right angles to the bowl to form the stem-holder. The knife is then used to gouge out and hollow the bowl. A small pointed stick (Fig. 10, a) is twisted into the stem end to make a hole for the stem, and when it has nearly reached the bowl cavity a small sharp twig is used to connect the two openings. After the exterior has been finished off -with the knife the pipe is complete except for a cane or hollow twig stem. A piece of flint (Fig. 10, 5) is often used to rub the pipe with and give it a polish, but generally none is thought necessary. The making of effigy forms in pipes is mostly done by pressing and shaping with the fingers. The pipes are seldom baked, as this is gradually affected when they are lighted and put into use.

There seems to be no limit to the forms which different individuals give to the pipes they make. Personal taste appears to play an important part, however, within certain broad but traditional limits. The pipe forms observed seem to fall into a few different classes. It may be said that the commonest type is that having a stem-base at right angles to the bowl as illustrated in some of the examples shown in Fig. 11. These are rather small pipes, aver-aging a little over an inch in height. The bowls are squared, rounded or formed into hexagons. Another sort is barrel-shaped, also with different sectional forms and of the same small size as the first. These lack the stem-base, having the reed or cane stem inserted directly into the bowl. A third general type has a much larger and heavier form and suggests the catlinite calumet forms met with among the Plains Indians. The red color and carefully given polish of the specimens under discussion increase the apparent similarity between the two.

Yuchi Effigy Pipes

Fig. 11. Yuchi Clay Pipes
Fig. 11. Yuchi Clay Pipes

Effigy pipes (see Fig. 11) are favorites with the Yuchi and often show considerable skill on the part of the maker in imitating living forms. It is rather curious that those representing the human face never have eyes. The rings sometimes seen about the rim represent the Sun, who is the tutelary deity of the Yuchi. The frequent occurrence of the frog form in pipes is explained by the desire on the part of the men to emulate the Wind, a super-natural being who, according to the myth, used a frog for his pipe and a snake for the pipe-stem during one of his journeys.

A noticeable similarity in form appears between the modern pipes of the Yuchi and those found in the burial mounds of the Appalachian region, described by Holmes.1

The collections of objects from the mounds of Alabama, Georgia and Florida made by Mr. Clarence B. Moore2 also contain many pipes in stone and earthenware which resemble the forms known to the modern Yuchi and illustrated in Fig. 11.

MLA Source Citation:

Add after new site opens. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 22 January 2015. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/yuchi-pipe-making.htm - Last updated on Jul 9th, 2013

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