A Most Exquisite Native American Pipe
The Apalache Foundation continues to do intensive archival research and geospatial analysis for the Native American History of the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River. Research reports are being published in Access Genealogy (www.AccessGenealogy.com.)
The ceramic pipe illustrated below was found by Captain James H. Nichols in 1870 while he was plowing near the famous Nacoochee Mound, which is pictured above. His plow fell into an intact flagstone sarcophagus, containing a skeleton, several Native American-made copper tools and weapons, shell beads and this beautiful ceramic pipe.
The pipe was fired from primary kaolin, which is a white clay with bands of metal oxides in it. Ceramics experts believe that it was fired to a porcelain temperature because the fine details of the pipe remained after being exposed to dampness and freezing temperatures for at least 800 years. After firing the color of the vitrified clay was roughly ivory.
The pipe is only 2″ high and could well have been a woman’s pipe. We don’t know the gender of the skeleton. Despite its small size, all surfaces of the pipe were polished to the point that the pipe glistens even today.
This pipe is on display at the National Museum of the American Indian. The drawing below was prepared by antiquarian George Gustav Heye in 1915, after he bought the pipe from Nichols’ daughter, who lived in Atlanta.
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