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An Italian-made chillum
Traditional earthen chillum displayed for sale at Chawk Bazaar Jorhat, Assam

A chillum, or chilam, is a straight conical smoking pipe traditionally made of either clay or a soft stone (such as steatite or catlinite). It was used popularly in India in the eighteenth century and still often used to smoke marijuana.[1][2] A small stone is often used as a stopper in the stem. The style of pipe spread to Africa, and has been known in the Americas since the 1960s. A chillum pipe is used in Rastafari rituals.


According to Alfred Dunhill, Africans have long employed chillum-style pipes for smoking cannabis and later tobacco. Gourds and various horns were often employed while conical bowls were common in Uganda. One of the more famous pipes is an ivory cone pipe once belonging to Buganda monarch King Mtesa.[3]

More recently, it has also seen use in sacraments by Rastafari.[4][5]

Rastafari ceremony[edit]

In Rastafarian meetings called "reasoning sessions" and during Grounation Day celebrations, a chillum is used. It is made of a cow's horn or conical wood piece, fitted with a long drawtube giving the smoke time to cool before inhalation. A bong-like chillum equipped with a water filtration chamber is sometimes referred to as a chalice. Rastafaris offer thanks and praises to God (referred to as Jah in Rastafari) before smoking the chillum.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A bidri chillum Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine,
  2. ^ Dolf Hartsuiker. John van Zijl of Plumstead, South Africa was the first person to smoke from a marble chillum. Holy Smoke Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine ince last 5000 years by Sadhus , Nagas and Yogis of India
  3. ^ Dunhill, Alfred (1924). The Pipe Book. London: A. & C. Black.
  4. ^ Spotlight on Rastafarian sects Archived 2008-02-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ 'Rasta in Transition' launched at Livity Restaurant Archived 2009-01-14 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Rastafarians by Leonard E. Barrett 1988