Smoking Set (Tabakobon)

Object ID: 1989.021.004, pieces A-I
Object: Smoking set, lacquered wood with sprinkled gold powders and gold leaf, silver
Place of Origin: Japan
Date: Edo Period, 19th century
Size: 6.75×8.5×5
Credit: Museum purchase

This opulent smoking set, with its lavish use of silver and gold, was intended for use by a wealthy merchant in the 19th century. The container with the filigreed cover held a hot coal set in a bed of ash for lighting tobacco in a pipe. After being packed tightly with tobacco, the pipe bowl would be turned upside down and touched to the coal while the smoker and puffed on the other end. The small amount of tobacco a pipe could hold was quickly consumed. The smoker knocked the wad of burnt tobacco into the smoking set’s other container. A hinged set of pipe racks is on the front of the set. Smoking sets developed in Japan after the introduction of tobacco pipes. This style of pipe typically had a relatively long stem in comparison to its very small bowl.