About this object

An opium pipe made from bamboo, with a knot in the wood left on for decoration. The pipe has a jade finial at each end, below which are engraved silver bands with floral motifs. The pipe bowl is made from brass with copper inlays, the bowl has a decorative 'collar' set with a small turquoise, a coral and a jade-like stone, the fourth stone is missing. The collar is decorated with punched 'c' scrolls, engraved foliage and raised bat motifs.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Smoking Narcotics
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China
  • Date made
    1850 about
  • Materials
    Coral; Brass; Silver; Copper; Bamboo; Jade; Turquoise
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: Sikkim: Gangtok
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    48 mm x 27 mm x 610 mm; 1 7/8 in x 1 1/16 in x 24 in
  • Note
    List of Curios No A30: Opium Pipe. Per Maharaja Kumar's Chinese Tutor on 24th March 1913. 50 or 60 years old. Jade of moderate quality at each end. 24 1/4" long. This pipe belonged to a Chinese civil official called Ho-tse-yi in Tibet, who was beheaded by order of General Chung in Tibet about July 1912. Curator's note: This pipe appears to have become the property of General Chung Ying following the beheading. General Chung Ying was a larger than life character who briefly stayed with David Macdonald (Trade Agent) in Yatung after being expelled from Tibet, along with the rest of the Chinese troops in 1912. General Chung had led around 2000 troops from China to Lhasa in 1910, instigating the 13th Dalai Lama's escape to British India, where he stayed until 1912. Fighting was fierce in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa between the Chinese troops and Tibetan army, but with the collapse of the Qing Empire, the Tibetan troops were able to gain the upper hand and an agreement was struck for the expulsion of all Chinese troops from Tibet via British India. General Chung was informed he had been stripped of his titles during his journey to British India. As the Chinese troops, including General Chung, flooded out of Tibet, they looked to sell their personal possessions in order to have some funds to make the journey home. Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    Charles Alfred Bell ( Collector)

Explore related


  • List of Curios

    Bell, Charles Alfred

    Author: Bell, Charles Alfred
    Description: A typed object catalogue from Bell's handwritten notes on a wide variety of objects from his personal collection. This information often contains, the date he obtained an object, its provenance (including where and who he acquired from) and the person responsible for giving him the information. The process of writing the inventory began in December 1912 and continued until the late 1930s.


  • 13th Dalai Lama's exile in British India 1910-1912

    Start date: 1910
    End date: 1910
    Description: Following an increase in hostilities between China and Tibet and the arrival of two thousand Chinese troops into Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama and a small entourage fled Lhasa during the night of 12 February 1910. Having been cut off from travelling to Mongolia they decided to head for British India and Sikkim. They rode hard with Chinese troops following closely behind them. A young member of the entourage Chensal Namgang (who would later become Tsarong Shapé), along with a small party, held back the Chinese troops at Chaksam Ferry giving the Dalai Lama time to make it to Phari, where W P Rosemeyer, a British India telegraph engineer gave him protection at a dak bungalow. The following day the Dalai Lama rode on to Yatung, where he was again given protection by David Macdonald (British Trade Agent), he finally rode on to Gnatong and to British India protection on 21st February 1910. Charles Bell was the officer in charge of the Dalai Lama and his entourage, during his time in British India and the two men developed a strong friendship during this event. The Dalai Lama was to stay in British India for over 2 years, only returning to Lhasa once Chinese troops had been removed and the intense fighting in Lhasa had stopped. This event would trigger the Dalai Lama's proclamation of Tibetan Independence in February 1913 and a series of modernising reforms.

Object view = Humanities
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