General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Apr 2021/3 Alligator
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Pipes in the form of ducks

Aztec clay pipes in the form of ducks

Pipes in the form of ducks, Mexica (Aztec), fired clay, approx 9 x 19 cms., National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

The Aztecs called tobacco yetl. They considered it to be a sacred plant created for the enjoyment of the gods and they venerated it for what appeared to be its magical powers. They either rolled the leaves into cylinders and smoked them like a modern cigar or shredded and pounded them for smoking in pipes like those shown here. Tobacco pipes were usually made of clay, and their bowls took a great variety of shapes. Archaeological excavations in Tlatelolco have unearthed large numbers of pipes, which suggests that smoking was very popular in the Aztec world. Those in the shape of animals (like those pictured here) were probably used by priests devoted to the deity whose nahual (spirit twin) was a particular animal.

Abridged from Aztecs exhibition catalgue, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2002, p. 420

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

‘Did the taco come from the cigarette, or the cigarette from the taco?! ‘