Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art

A Bone Pipe Case for the Kiseru Pipe â Meiji

A Bone Pipe Case for the Kiseru Pipe – Meiji

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Ivory: Pre 1900: Item # 1143728

Please refer to our stock # 18 when inquiring.
This is an antiques Japanese pipe case made from bone – these are known as Kiseru-zutsu. The piece measures 6 ½” long and is 7/8” external diameter at its widest. It is a very cleverly made lid made from the same bone and hinged to fit over the end of the case when not in use. Just below the lid there is a raised loop of bone with a hole through it – this would have been used to thread a silk cord for hanging the case from the owners belt.

The case is in excellent condition with no cracks or chips – and fine old patina. It is almost impossible to state the age with certainty; however, we do believe this one dates back to the late Edo period, circa 1830s-1860s.

Kiseru-zutsu is the Japanese term for "pipe case". Kiseru-zutsu come in several varieties and are made from a number of different materials. Muso-zutsu is the most common variety on the antiques market today. Muso-zutsu are simple cases consisting of a tube with a very well fitting, inset lid, which was almost always made from the same materials as the main case tube. Materials for muso-zutsu varied wildly as bone, antler, wood, woven paper or bamboo.

Kiseru is a Japanese smoking pipe traditionally used for smoking kizami, a finely shredded tobacco product resembling human hair. Typically the mouth piece and bowl are made from metal, with a tubular shaft of wood or bamboo stretching in between. The bowl is much smaller than that of western-style pipes. Most kiseru are roughly 15 to 18 cm in length – 6” to 7”.