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Bridled Horse Pipe Bowl

An Excerpt From Jamestown Rediscovery VII by William M. Kelso, J. Eric Deetz, Seth W. Mallios, and Beverly A. Straube:

This pipe from Jamestown consists of the bowl only. The top of the bowl has been flattened and an ear has been pulled up above the rim on each side. On the front of the bowl, facing the smoker, simple incised lines a face with two almond-shaped eyes, a band at the forehead and around the chin line, and two bands down the nose. A small hole has been punched on either side of the face but they do not penetrate the interior wall of the bowl. So the purpose of the holes was not for the effect of having smoke pouring from the ears bur rather as a means of hanging the pipe around one's neck or possibly for suspension of a "bridle." It has been suggested that the effigy is representing a bridled horse1 and, indeed, there is an additional pad of clay that has been added to the back of the bowl as if to represent the arch of a horse's neck.

Prior to the 1610 seal date of this context, there were several horses at Jamestown. After leaving London in May 1609, the 3rd Supply stopped at Plymouth on the west coast of England for the express purpose of picking up horses. Colonist Gabriel Archer records that "six Mares and two Horses" were loaded into The Blessing, which was the ship upon which he also traveled.2 John Smith remarks that when he left in the fall of 1609 there were "six Mares and a Horse,"3 which became sustenance for the starving colonists over the following winter. This is probably the first time the Powhatans had seen horses, and Smith records that they were in great awe of these animals, just as they were of lightning, thunder and the colonists' firearms and artillery power. The Indians worshiped horses as they did "all things that were able to do them hurt beyond their prevention."4 It makes sense that they would use the image of something feared on a tobacco pipe, since tobacco was such an important part of their rituals to placate evil forces.

1 Dennis Blanton, William and Mary Archaeological Research Center, made this suggestion.
2 Phillip L. Barbour, The Jamestown Voyages Under the First Charter, 1607-1609 (Cambridge: The University Press, 1969), 278.
3 Phillip L. Barbour, ed. The Complete Works of Captain John Smith (1580-1631) (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1986), II: 326.
4 Phillip L. Barbour, ed. The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, I: 169.

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