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This elegant pipe of brass and bamboo dates to early 20th century Japan and was used for smoking finely shredded tobacco (kizami-tabako). Known as a rao-kiseru, these short smoking pipes were comprised of hollow lengths of thin bamboo secured to a brass mouthpiece and brass bowl. Often these pipes were paired with decorative accessories, such as wooden carrying cases or gilt tabako-bons. We've elevated this pipe on a custom steel mount for display as a storied sculptural object.
The kiseru, is the Japanese smoking pipe, which was popularized in the early 17th century. The kiseru is usually made with the mouth piece and bowl being metal, and the shaft made of bamboo or metal, and is thinner in diameter. Because of the metal ends, if the kiseru was made long enough, it could also be used as a weapon, and was carried around by gangsters. Kiseru also are embellished with engraved details to show social class, and status.
[Update 1] I have been informed that as of 9/1/2010, LSANDO no longer supports the sale of Kiseru for overseas shipping. They have removed the English-translated pages from their site. The links on this page now point to only Japanese-language pages. SaruDama intends to verify with LSANDO what their policy now is regarding oversea shipping/processing and if necessary seek out an alternative location from which readers in the U.S. might obtain Japanese kiseru and tobacco.
As far as getting my hands on one of these: I simply could not find an online store in the USA selling kiseru (and I am familiar with the major pipe/tobacco sites here). And the ONLY (trustworthy) Japanese site I could find which (a) sold kiseru online and (b) would ship abroad, is:
PIPE kiseru and its kiseruzutsu case representing Fukurokuju Japan, Meiji period (1868-1912) Wood, antler and brass Long. of the pipe: 18.5 cm Long. of the case: 21 cm The kiseru is a traditional smoker's pipe of very fine cut tobacco called a kizami . The pipe, called rau , is made of bamboo, the small bowl bowl, called gankubi , and the spout, called suikuchi , are made of brass. The case is carved in deer antler, also called antler, representing Fukurokuju with a fan on the side. Fukurokuju is one of the seven lucky deities in Japanese mythology. Illustrative image: Cover of the novel Komon gawa by Santō Kyōden, 1790. Text and photos FCP CORIDON Ref.LP2926
The word kiseru is said to have originated from the Cambodian word khsier around the 16th century, while it is also said that the word originated from the Portuguese que sorver (\"which is drawn\").
Tobacco has been known in Japan since the 1570s at the earliest. By the early 17th century, kiseru had become popular enough to even be mentioned in some Buddhist textbooks for children. The kiseru evolved along with the equipment and use of incense associated with the Japanese incense ceremony, kōdō:
During the Edo period, many samurai and chōnin smoked tobacco, and often carried a kiseru in a special case called a kiseruzutsu. Kiseru were considered status symbols for their owners, due to being made from precious metals and having intricate designs adorned on them. There was also a high cost on importing tobacco, which was considered an extravagance of the rich.
The kiseru would be the main way to smoke tobacco until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, where cigarettes were introduced and rapidly became popular. However, kiseru would remain popular in rural areas and among people wishing to preserve its culture. By 1929, there were 190 workshops and 400 artisans still producing kiseru in Japan. Nowadays, there are only a few artisans left still producing kiseru. However, there remains some interest in kiseru by some young people, especially in the aesthetics of kiseru.
The word kiseru today is more commonly used to refer to the practice of defrauding the railway system by buying two cheap tickets to get past the entrance and exit gates while not paying for the distance between them. This is likened to a kiseru as there is only metal at the ends, and nothing in the middle, a metaphor indicating that money (metal) only covers the beginning and end.
There are two main types of kiseru; rau kiseru, which are made of three parts; the mouthpiece (吸口, suikuchi), stem (羅宇, rau), and shank (雁首, gankubi), and nobe kiseru, which are made with a single piece of metal.
Much heavier and longer kiseru were often carried by common people living on the fringes of society, such as the yakuza, gamblers, and gangsters, which were designed to be used as weapons. These pipes were called kenka kiseru (fighting pipes), ranging anywhere from 12 to 18 inches long. These pipes were often made of cast iron or brass, making them effective truncheon-like weapons for striking opponents.
The samurai were also known to use kiseru as weapons, often for rare occasions when a samurai would be parted with his swords but still required a means of self-defence. Like the kenka kiseru, they were made completely from cast iron or brass and were called buyōkiseru. A typical buyōkiseru was about 16 inches long, and could be easily carried in an obi without raising suspicion.
Because kiseru were so often used as weapons during the Edo period, several classical martial arts schools incorporated secret techiniques into their curriculums. A style of fighting armed with a kiseru was commonly referred to as kiseru-jutsu, and used similar techniques to those used in tessenjutsu.
The word kiseru is now used in reference to skipping train fares by buying cheap tickets at either end of the journey to get past the machines, reflecting the metal at both ends and nothing in between. 781b155fdc