Most everybody well knows that Native American pipes were often used in the past to help bring about peace between tribes. The term “peace pipe” has come down to us through stories and songs from old. But few are aware that Native Americans used different kinds of pipes for various religious, spiritual, ceremonial and cultural events. Nowadays, pipes are primarily crafted for use by individuals and are much simpler in design. However, skilled craftsmen continue to produce beautifully decorated pipes that are great for wall hangings.
As mentioned, the “peace pipe” is what we are familiar with today. However, over the centuries, many different pipes have been crafted and used by Native American Indians throughout the North American continent. There are a variety of types of pipes for various purposes that have arisen over time. One style is a long stemmed pipe that is used by Plains Indians like the Sioux. They hollowed out a wood stem and attached it to a stone bowl. It became knows as a Pipestone Pipe and has been used for hundreds of years in ceremonies and various rituals. This stone was found in the area now known as Minnesota. However, the use of this type of pipe spread throughout the continent due to trading practices of the various tribes.
Animals and Nature are a very important in the daily spiritual and personal lives of Native American Indians. They reflect this importance in their art and crafts. The Shamans used pipes that have bowels that have been carved with various fetish animals such as the eagle, wolf, bear, buffalo, etc. Every Shaman had his own special spirit guide that was represented by the animal carved in the bowl of the ceremonial pipe that he used in the ceremony.
The Sioux tribe had another type of pipe known as the Plains Pipe. It was for both ceremonial and personal use. The pipe was often lit up and passed around when there was a gathering of men. It would be passed from man to man in a clockwise direction and proper protocol had to be followed. Sweat lodge ritual participants also made use of this pipe during their sacred ceremonies.
After the Europeans arrived, the metal hatchet or tomahawk became a favorite tool. One variety would be a tomahawk with a hollowed handle and a bowl formed on the opposite end of the blade. This tomahawk would have been present during talks of war. If peace was the theme during these talks, then the bowl would be lit and the tomahawk pipe would be passed from man to man and smoked. Then the host would take the tomahawk outside and bury it preventing the weapon from being used. Today, “Bury the Hatchet” is the phrase that has come down to us from this tradition.
Today, the centuries old traditions of the Native American Pipe are continuing to be expressed. Skilled American Indian craftsmen produce many different styles that represent their cultural diversities. These range from simple pipes with a limited amount of decoration, to elaborate ones made with leather, fringe, feathers, beads, antlers and bones. These make wonderful wall hangings and can bring into your home the essence of the Native American Indian culture. Check out the Pipe Category on our site. There you will find every variety from Mini Social Pipes to Pipestone, Peace Pipes and Ceremonial Pipes, Animal Totem Pipes, Laced Pipes, and Hatchet Pipes. The Pipes are crafted by members of the Sioux, Navajo, Creek, and Cherokee Tribes and all come with Certificates of Authenticity.