Online opium museum

The Opium Museum is a fascinating website by the author of a book called The Art of Opium Antiques that tracks the forgotten history of a hugely popular recreational drug of the early 1900s.

It has images of some remarkably intricate opium smoking paraphenalia, but probably the most interesting part is the sections with photos of opium smokers from the late 1800s to early 1900s.

It was a habit largely associated with the Orient and also prevalent among immigrant communities around the world.

The collection illustrates that opium smoking was common in all classes of society and until the crackdowns in the 1930s onwards, it was not considered to be necessarily seedy or degenerate.

It’s an interesting contrast to a photo collection on the current Afghan Drug War, also over opium, although the Afghan crops are largely destined for the heroin trade. Opium wars have been a traditional pastime of the British, and this is the most recent in one of many.

The Afghan photo collection is by photographer Aaron Huey, but are hidden behind some god awful Flash wrapping meaning you can’t link to it directly. So you’ll need to go to the website, click on ‘Features 1′ and then on ‘Afghanistan Drug War’.

Link to the Opium Museum.
Link to photographer website (via BoingBoing).

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