井底之蛙

3/20/2008

Smoking in China

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:41 pm

A good book answers your questions. A really good book answers questions you had not thought of yet. Apparently Tim Brook’s Vermeer’s Hat is a really good book, as it is already answering questions I did not know I had. Among the many topics Brook discusses (the book is about globalization in the 17th century) is the history of smoking. He points out that this was a new habit in China (and everywhere else) and he also talks about pipes. I had always known that Chinese pipes were rather long, both the tobacco pipes like this Baccyor thiswater

and the opium pipes like this

pipe

1 Brook explains that the reason for the long pipes is that smoking was considered a particularly yang thing, and you wanted to let the heat of the smoke cool (or de-yang) itself as much as possible. This is why smoking was not advised for women or old men, why women’s pipes were so much longer than men’s and, I presume, why cigarette smoking among women was considered so risque in the the 20th century.

  1. Note that when selling things on Ebay you can call them all opium pipes []

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