Opium Den Pillows – Hand Lacquered leather over wooden frame – C. 1910

Through the fog of the fevered dream you suddenly realize that your neck hurts from your head lolling and dipping as you fade in and out of consciousness. The smiling Celestial plugs another gob of opium into your pipe and you draw deep. As he fades into the foggy haze of the room, off to tend to another on shore leave or some hopeless, shabby and scratching fiend, you roll over in your elaborately carved gentleman’s ‘crib’, tuck the sanitary, lacquered pillow under your neck, plug the pipe stem into the corner of your mouth and breath the dragon’s breath as your mind comes alive. The sweat beads on your forehead and your body goes limp in the ecstasy of the endless opium trip.

These opium den pillows were recovered by a WA State Police officer from a raid on an opium den sometime between 1910-1920 near Tacoma WA according to his daughter from whom we bought them. One can only imagine the bedlam of frenzied hopheads, sluggishly fighting for the exit as the cops burst in, indiscriminately swinging blackjacks and clubs through the smoky air. Uncle Ike’s pot shop has got nothing on the outlaw old days of drug use here in the Pacific Northwest.