Friday, July 22, 2011

Concerning Pipe-Weed or Herblore of the Shire

We know that Hobbits were the first to smoke the plant of the genus Nicotiana. Merry Brandybuck in his book "Herblore of the Shire observes that the plant was not native to Middle-Earth and most likely brought over the sea by Men of Numenor. It grew in Gondor and spread through out Middle-Earth.

In 2670 of the 3rd Age Tobold Hornblower was the first to plant and cultivate a certain specimen of Nicotiana that he observed was good for smoking. It grew nicely around Longbottom in the South Farthing and soon he had several varieties. Old Toby, Longbottom Leaf and Southern Star. Another variety was called Southlinch, grown near Bree.

I would like to observe some of the pipes and containers a Hobbit would have on his person or in his home. Above we see two different kinds of pipes. Both are clay but one is slightly more decorative than the other, maybe pointing to the fact that a higher class Hobbit such as Bilbo would have smoked it where as the other would have been the common Hobbits pipe.

Here we see a common Hobbits pipe-weed container. It is made of cow horn with the lid and bottom made of wood.

This Hobbit needs to refill.

This is a pipe tamper used for packing down burning pipe-weed. Historically pipe tampers were made in various designs and shapes.

Here we see a more well to do Hobbits (possibly Bilbo's) version of the container. This is also horn with a more detailed lid and bottom. And the inscription tells you
what it is for.

Eventually pipe-weed spread to many cultures including Dwarves, Men and Wizards. We know that Gandalf was quite fond of the stuff and smoked with Bilbo and the Dwarves at Bag End. That passage describes Gandalf with a short clay pipe, unlike the long wooden pipe in the films.

So take out your favorite pipe, fill up your bowl and think on these things awhile.

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