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Kuripe Tobacco Pipes: What They Are and How to Use Them

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

With the rising popularity and widespread use of powder tobacco products this once relatively unheard of niche has given birth to a growing demand for Rapéh and its collectable paraphernalia. However shamanic tobacco enthusiasts still have many questions on how to apply Rapéh snuff correctly. In this concise article, we will investigate and answer many questions including; 'what is a Kuripe?', 'What is a Kuripe used for?' and cover the differences between a Kuripe and a Tepi.

Sitting comfortably? Let's begin.


What is a Kuripe?

Kuripe tobacco pipes are most commonly used for the self-administration of Rapéh tobacco - a type of dry shamanic snuff powder with calming and psychotropic properties. From ceremonial Rapéh to recreational usage, Kuripe pipes are convenient, pocket-sized self-applicator pipes often hand-made from wood or bone.

Rapéh (pronounced ra-pay or hah-pay), also frequently known as hape' or Rape', is a type of South American tobacco snuff used in both shamanic and alternative medicine ceremonies. Rapéh enthusiasts often prefer the Kuripe tobacco pipe (over a Tepi pipe), which allows the user to conveniently self-administer Rapéh without the aid of an assistant to blow the powder tobacco - this method is typically done using a Tepi pipe, customary in Rapéh and healing ceremonies (covered later in this article).

What is a Kuripe Used For?

A Kuripe is a small handheld powder tobacco pipe occasionally attached to a string and worn around the neck. Designed to make Rapéh application as clean and mess-free as possible, the tool originated from South American native tribes, giving birth to a unique and decorative handcrafted style, highly desired by a growing western market.

What is a Tepi Pipe?

Traditionally, in Amazonian ceremonial circles, the Rapéh tobacco is administered to the user by a hierarchical senior - usually, a shaman using a longer hollow 'Tepi' pipe made from animal horn or bamboo. Tepi pipes are often used during sacred rituals or rite of passage initiations, often by tribal leaders or respected village elders.

However, with a growing global demand for Rapéh products, the Kuripe has become a far more appealing choice for those wanting to experience the benefits of Rapéh without attending an event or ceremony. Alternative to cumbersome Tepi pipes, the Kuripe's handheld convenience makes it far easier for solo Rapéh users to self-apply the powdered tobacco themselves, without the aid of a third party.

The Different Types of Kuripes

With various shapes, sizes, and materials available on the market, Rapéh users will likely be spoiled for choice when picking out the perfect pipe.

There are many different types of Kuripe pipes, the most common being hollow V-shaped pipes. With an angle of between 45-50 degrees to ensure a comfortable fit for the nose end of the pipe to the pipe's mouthpiece.

There are also more rarely found Double-Nosed Kuripe, which has not one, but two exit pipes, snugly fitting each of the user's nostrils. There are even "2-in-1" pipes with dual Kuripe or Tepi functionality, allowing the user to either self-administer Rapéh themselves or apply to another person without needing to carry two separate application tools.

How Are Kuripes Made?

Kuripe pipes are small and V-shaped, typically made out of bamboo, hollowed-out wood, animal bone or horn.

With only two single cuts a piece of Bamboo can easily be fashioned together to create the V-shaped tobacco applicator. Thanks to its affordability, abundance, and ease of handling, bamboo is one of the most popular materials for making a Kuripe. For Rapéh connaisseurs and enthusiasts alike, bespoke and customised Kuripe pipes can be hand-carved with exquisite craftsmanship from ivory bone for a more premium Rapéh application experience.

Rapéh is commonly discovered when users attend power medicine ceremonies, the snuff is used to 'ground' and calm nervous or apprehensive users before beginning the event. It is traditionally believed within shamanic cultures that the use of animal bone or horn material gives the user an intangible yet energetic benefit, protecting them with the sacred spirit of the animal.

Many Rapéh novices and those new to the powder tobacco, begin self-applying the shamanic snuff as part of a daily spiritual practice often before yoga or a meditation ritual. A simple bamboo Kuripe makes a popular first choice for Rapéh newbies, however, it's widely accepted that users form a deep relationship with the sacred tobacco through their daily practices and will eventually seek a bone or handcrafted Kuripe upgrade for their home tobacco toolkit.

How to Use a Kuripe Self-Applicator

At first glance, the handheld Kuripe may appear confusing with how to use it, many amusingly mistaking the 'blow' end for the 'nostril' end of the pipe. However, the Rapéh self-application process can be a simple and enjoyable experience when broken down into a step-by-step method used by many Rapéh enthusiasts.

Step 1: Setting Intention

Allow time for relaxation and preparation. Simply focussing on the breath or repeating an internal mantra are effective ways to calm and centre the mind. One should take a moment to silence mental chatter or racing thoughts and focus on what they would like to get out of the experience.

Step 2: Measuring Rapéh Dosage

After mental preparations are complete, pour a small amount (no more than 0.25 grams for beginners) of the dry powdered tobacco into the palm or a folded piece of card and flatten any larger clumps of Rapéh with the long flat side of the Kuripe. Next, scoop half of the Rapéh into the nose end of the pipe and gently tap it with a finger to settle the powder into the Kuripe's V-shaped elbow.

Step 3: Application

Traditionally people apply the first application of Rapéh into the left nostril believed to symbolise the death of negative energies. The second 'hit' of Rapéh is shortly followed by an application into the right nostril believed to represent a rebirth of positive change.

With the Kuripe primed with Rapéh, one should inhale a deep breath and hold it while placing the correct ends of the pipe comfortably into the left nostril and between lips. With eyes closed slowly and gently exhale the breath, blowing the Rapéh through the hollow V-shaped elbow into the nasal canal. When blown delicately, users report a pleasurable relaxing sensation with a mild and short-lived peppery burning.

Allowing up to a minute between each application is common as some Rapéh can cause the eyes to water, it is advisable to have tissue paper on hand to dry any tears or nasal discharge.

Once ready, repeat the steps above one should and apply the Rapéh to the right-hand nostril. As Rapéh is a tobacco-based product it is also advised to use small amounts to begin with, as larger amounts or 'flood doses' can trigger unpleasant feelings of nausea that can last for up to an hour.

Over time many Rapéh users become more confident learning their personal tobacco tolerance level. However, a word of caution advises users that shamanic snuff powder (as with all tobacco products) can cause dependence if habitually used over extended periods.

For a detailed and definitive breakdown of this process click here.

How to clean a Kuripe Self-Applicator Pipe?

With frequent Rapéh usage, many users may find a slow build-up of toughening Rapéh on the inside of the pipe barrels if not regularly cleaned. This build-up of tobacco can also create an unsanitary environment for bacteria to breed when combined with air moisture, therefore, maintaining a regular cleaning protocol of one's applicator pipe is highly recommended. The good news is cleaning Kuripes is simple and no special tools or equipment.

External Cleaning:

After each use, the product can be wiped down externally with baby wipes or damp tissue paper. This will maintain a hygienic appearance and prevent unsightly tarry build-up around the nasal end of the pipe.

Internal Cleaning:

Depending on the Kuripe's material, a few cleaning options are available. Using simple 'over the counter' cotton buds, moisten the tip with water and thoroughly polish the inside of the pipe barrel, carefully removing any dark tobacco debris. This method is highly effective alone, however, those desiring a deeper clean can rinse it with soapy water and be sure to allow the Kuripe it dry to room temperature to prevent any wood or material shrinkage.

What is a Tepi Pipe?

The Kuripe pipe is by far the most popular applicator available on the market, with many online stores stocking wide varieties of designs and styles. But for those wanting to experience the most traditional way of receiving Rapéh, the Tepi pipe is the shamanic tool of choice with its deep cultural roots in South American ceremonial rituals.

A Tepi pipe, unlike a Kuripe, is a long narrow horn-shaped applicator, traditionally used by the shamanic tribe leader who would administer sacred doses of Rapéh to ceremony participants.

What is a Tepi Made From?

Tepis are hand made from numerous materials, including bamboo (an affordable and lightweight option for beginners), bone, wood or even stone (a weighty and higher quality alternative for more experienced shamanic practitioners). Tepis vary in length, ranging anywhere from a few inches to an impressive two feet in length. However, the Tepi must be long enough for the shaman to be able to carefully administer the Rapéh dosage from a comfortable distance.

Final Thoughts. The Tepi vs. Kuripe

Those curious about trying Rapéh for the first time are likely scratching their heads wondering what the best product is for a humble beginner. The choice ultimately depends on the preferences of the user - and there are a few considerations to think about.

How does one plan on applying Rapéh? If self-administering the powder tobacco without the aid of others is desired, then a small handheld Kuripe pipe would be the most suited choice. Kuripes are specifically designed to allow the user to conveniently personalise their dosage of Rapéh. Typically Kuripe are easily obtainable online with affordable shipping costs due to their small size and parcel lightweights.

Tepis, on the other hand, are designed for those wanting to experience Rapéh within a communal group or more intimate and traditional setting. Although the Tepi is a more impressive instrument they can be a more costly investment and incur higher shipping costs due to their increased package size and weight.

With an abundance of variety and choices available from online retailers, customers are spoiled for choice when shopping for Rapéh application tools. Kuripe pipes can be best suited for anyone wanting to try to experience ceremonial Rapéh snuff privately by themselves. A Tepi will be a better solution for more experienced Rapéh users or shamanic practitioners holding ceremonial events. As subjective as one's taste in food or choice of fashion there is no right or wrong option when it comes to choosing a Rapéh pipe, the correct tool for the trade will become obvious once one has decided on the desired end usage of the powdered snuff. From curious beginners to Rapéh veterans an abundance of choice is up for grabs so ultimately one's final decision will come down to personal taste, preference and budget. We hope this article has been of assistance and helped answer any questions you have.

For more insightful content feel free to check out the rest of our blog, where you'll find an abundance of content on related topics.

If you have any more questions or suggestions for articles we could produce don't hesitate to drop us a line and a member of the team will get back to you promptly.

Thanks for reading.


Founder, Creative Director

Planet Kambo Ltd.

With a forensic eye for aesthetic detail & navy seal operational discipline, creative director David Rees drives the strategic business vision for the company.

Boasting over 15 years of design agency, marketing & branding experience, Dave cut his teeth with industry heavyweights London Real & helped grow their business to 7 figure revenue.


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