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Medieval Pipe Smoking

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:01 pm
by MuldissDartonProductionsL
Hello All!

I wonder if you could help me? I am currently working on a medieval fantasy film and am trying to find out how they would have lit their pipes in medieval times??

I understand they may have had a tinder box/tube with flint but how would they then transfer the flame to the pipe? Would they have had wooden tapers? If so any idea what kind of wood?

Any info/advice on this would be much aprreciated.

Thank you

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:24 pm
by Badger
I may be wrong but i thought they did not have tobaco in europe then.

Hence no need for pipes to smoke it.

But should they want to spark up a twig from a fire would do.

Or a medieval zippo.

' The beers good tonight'

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:06 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Suddenly reminds me of the excellent Bob Newhart sketch about the descovery of tobbaco.....


...... " Hey its Nutty Walt...."


Classic stuff.

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:49 pm
by 'BOB'
It isn't until the early 1500's that the tobacco plant even reaches Europe. Chalk pipes are mass produced for mariners around the 1580's. Pipe smoking became extremely popular in the 1600's.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:25 am
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Ideed...

.... though its not to say some other leaf may have been inhaled shall we say, during earlier times. So perhaps pipes may have still been available. Though somehow I doubt northern & Western Europe would have cottoned on to smoking of any alternative in a big way...


As for how to light an unlikely early pipe. Well, Gunpowder originated I believe in the east, so any likelyhood of Europeans comming accross any form of smoking will have been in the east, so gun crews in Medieval times may well have been smokers, so may assume perhaps the same sort of taper used for the weapon may light said pipe.



MuldissDartonProductionsL, If you hadn't said the magic word FANTASY in your start post, I think the advice would be don't even think of having anyone portray a smoker of any sort of pipe or similar, but seeing its fantasy, then go with what you feel is right. I've used a leap of imagination in the previous paragraphs, as tobbaco was not available in reality. As I say there may have been an alternative, but depends upon what you wish to portray in your fantasy, whilst keeping an air of believability.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:17 am
by Dave B
To try to answer the question as asked, firelighting was a pain, and people tried to keep their fire alight, and light other things from it. so fires were banked at night or covered with a cerfew (a pottery lid placed over the fire). everything else would be lit from that.

If you had to light a fire from scratch, you'd perhaps use a flint and steel to produce a spark, which is then caught on 'charcloth' a peice of cloth which is chared, by heating in the absence of air. this would then start to smoulder and could be used to light a sulphur spill, which in turn would light a candle.

If you look on youtube there is some good video of medieval firelighting with a flint and steel.

Dave.

Re: Medieval Pipe Smoking

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:25 am
by Medicus Matt
MuldissDartonProductionsL wrote:

I am currently working on a medieval fantasy film and am trying to find out how they would have lit their pipes




Rub two wizards together...

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:04 am
by Mordengaard
There's other things to smoke besides the good ol' tobacco plant of course. I'm no authority, but I dimly recall seeing something about the Romans smoking leaves from a fruit tree (was it peach?), and of course there's our old friend hemp.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:36 am
by Medicus Matt
Mordengaard wrote: I dimly recall seeing something about the Romans smoking leaves from a fruit tree (was it peach?)


Dried coltsfoot leaves, smoked in a reed or pipe, mentioned by Pliny and Dioscorides as a remedy for coughs and breathing difficulties.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:00 am
by Mordengaard
Thanks for giving me hope that my memory isn't entirely shot :)

Of course this isn't helpful with the original question :p

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:22 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Its a fantasy film.
Ignis! Boom your fag is alight!
:roll:

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:00 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
But only in America :shock: :wink: :lol: :shock:

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:57 pm
by Hraefn
Ember tongs for picking up small pieces of glowing coal from an existing fire. Flint and steel caught on a small piece of charred punk or tinder fungus or one of these mebbe http://www.firepiston.com/ click on one of the demos.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:56 pm
by 'BOB'
(straying away from the original question and sorry for my bluntness. Have reread thread properly). There has always been evidence of pipe smoking even going back to Egypt. I believe the Norwegians smoked the herb Angelikarot in pipes- circa 1000AD.
As for lighting them, what Dave B said. :)

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:13 pm
by Medicus Matt
'BOB' wrote: I believe the Norwegians smoked the herb Angelikarot in pipes- circa 1000AD.


That's a new one. I know it was very popular in medieval scandinavia, grown for medicinal and culinary purposes.

It was smoked like tobacco or mixed with tobacco, but only after the habit of smoking tobacco had already become established. There are some pipes in the Sogn Folk Museum but they're a lot more recent than 1000AD, post 1600 I believe.

Any sources for that?

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:14 pm
by 'BOB'
:) A book called Pursuit of Oblivion- A global history of Narcotics. By Richard Davenport-Hines. Bit opinionated but an interesting read.
The herb is also a narcotic as well as having medicinal purposes. Will go back and check the date though.

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:22 pm
by Mad Monk of Mitcham
I have seen it documented that medieval pipe smokers would fill the pipe with the herb, followed by a quarter ounce of gunpowder. The pipe would be lit using a thin wooden taper of fruitwood, which helped the flavour, apparently.

Pipe smokers could be recognised by the smell of burning, and lack of eyebrows and facial hair.

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:30 am
by Medicus Matt
'BOB' wrote: The herb is also a narcotic as well as having medicinal purposes. .


Only in very high (toxic) concentrations. Not one I'd be putting in my pipe. :wink:

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:37 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Mad Monk of Mitcham wrote:I have seen it documented that medieval pipe smokers would fill the pipe with the herb, followed by a quarter ounce of gunpowder. The pipe would be lit using a thin wooden taper of fruitwood, which helped the flavour, apparently.

Pipe smokers could be recognised by the smell of burning, and lack of eyebrows and facial hair.


That has the ring of a Tall story or Python Sketch, but daft enough to be probably true.

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:31 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
A quarter ounce of gunpowder??? Wouldn't that be enough to blow your head off???
I'm all for getting off your face but isn't that taking it a tad literally!

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:23 am
by Mad Monk of Mitcham
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:A quarter ounce of gunpowder??? Wouldn't that be enough to blow your head off???
I'm all for getting off your face but isn't that taking it a tad literally!


If you were smoking it in a firecracker, probably. :roll:

On top of a herb, (not compressed inside a pipe) in a long pipe, it should just remove facial hair and eyebrows. Try it, go on!* :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:




*Which part of Mad Monk do you not understand?