These days we often tend to think that cannabis only became known in Europe because of "hippie culture” and “Rock 'n Roll". But an exotic intoxicant called hashish had arrived on our shores along with the imports of foreign goods during the colonial age – and certainly no later than Napoleon's Egyptian campaign (from 1798 to 1801), when his legionaries took it back home to France.
In 1844, the "Club des Hashischins" was formed in Paris. This “hashish-eaters’ club” was an illustrious group of young students who were experimenting with hashish. They were joined by creatives who are now counted among the best in the world: writers such as Victor Hugo or Alexandre Dumas. The latter even mentions using hashish in his novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo".
Famous painters also visited the "Club des Hashischins". We actually have two paintings by Eugène Delacroix on display here. Take a look around our picture gallery to see if you can spot them.
Hookahs, or shisha pipes, provide clear evidence of hashish consumption. But that’s harder to establish when a European pipe is shown. What was smoked in those pipes? There’s a clue in the size of the pipe, or rather, the size of the bowl into which you pack the material to be smoked. In an opium pipe, it’s tiny, while marijuana pipes are up to a centimetre in diameter. Tobacco pipes, on the other hand, are so large that you can fit a whole thumb into them.
Methods of smoking hemp have evolved in recent times. Oriental shishas have become today's "bongs" of various shapes and sizes. For a long time, the joint, an extra large cigarette filled with tobacco and cannabis, was the most common way to smoke cannabis. A relatively recent practice is dry herb vaporising, or vaping. There, the smoking material is heated at a low temperature so that the ingredients are vaporised without producing embers or combustion residues.
All depictions: © Steffen Geyer