Oriental figure smoking a water pipe (musical automaton)
01. Jan 1840–31. Dec 1840
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, the ‘Oriental Style’ and exotic foreign accessories from far-off lands were among the furnishings favoured by the comfortably off, cultured and cosmopolitan middle classes. This musical automaton that stood in a Viennese coffee house around 1840 for the amusement of the establishment’s patrons was part of this fashion for all things Turkish. When set in motion, the mechanism makes the figure appear to be smoking a tchibuk or water pipe. Oriental figures smoking water pipes had been used as signs for tobacconists’ shops since the seventeenth century.