This complete layout from Vietnam is made of copper and was once adorned with niello. Sometime in the past, the niello designs were erased when the items were mistakenly polished. From a special exhibition at Holland's Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2007.
This spectacular complete layout features accoutrements adorned with cloisonne. From a special exhibition at Holland's Kunsthal Rotterdam that was on display in 2007.
These opium travel kits from Vietnam were constructed from tropical hardwood and equipped with chased silver fittings. By having such a kit handy a wealthy smoker would not have to resort to public opium dens while traveling.
These paktong and copper "rollers" are shaped like miniature drums. The smoker would use their concave copper bowls as a place to roll the pill of opium while cooking it over the lamp.
This tiny brush and pan were used to clean the layout tray of particles of opium that could be recycled. The process of cooking and smoking opium was a messy one.
A typical layout tray for opium smoking. Such a tray provided a way to organize the pipe, lamp and many accoutrements that were necessary to smoke opium in the Chinese manner.
The second most important accoutrement after the opium needle was the pipe-bowl scraper. These were used to scrape "dross" or opium ash from the inside of pipe-bowls. This example was crafted from paktong.
Opium "needles" were essential to the smoking process. These thin steel rods were approximately six inches (15cm) long. A "pill" of opium was skewered onto the sharp end of the needle and then heated over the lamp before being placed upon the pipe-bowl.
At its most basic, opium smoking could be accomplished with three key pieces of paraphernalia: the opium pipe, the opium lamp, and the opium needle. For smokers with no limits on time or money, there were myriad accoutrements crafted in materials both common and precious. The items displayed here are just a handful of hundreds of arcane tools that were once manufactured solely for the ingestion of opium, and whose functions have largely been forgotten.
From: The Art of Opium Antiques ...now available at Amazon.com