Otter and Raven Effigy Pipes

Animals inspire design of ceremonial pipes

The animals that provided food, clothing, and tools for Native people, and that were the basis for stories and legends, often appear as subjects of artwork that adorns pottery and other decorative and ceremonial objects. These animal effigy pipes (Raven and Otter) were found in southeastern Illinois. The platform pipe with otter effigy bowl is only 3.5 inches long. It was found in White County and dates to 100 B.C. The raven effigy platform pipe is somewhat larger, about 4.75 inches long and 2.5 inches high at the bowl. It was made more than 500 years later in about 430 A.D. and found in Hardin County in 1950.

Pipe smoking began late in the Archaic period and grew in significance during the Woodland period (3,000-1,200 years ago). Historically, Native Americans smoked tobacco and other dried plants in rituals of peace and war, to make offerings, treat disease, and to seal agreements. These plants were also burned as incense and buried with the dead. These traditions probably began centuries earlier.

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