NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Opium den for a wealthy customer, who is enjoying his pipe in a private curtained alcove. The small objects on the left tray on the floor are shoes for a woman with bound feet. Opium is a narcotic drug obtained from the seeds of the opium poppy. It contains the chemicals morphine and codeine, as well as other alkaloids. The opium resin from the poppy is processed, and then burned in pipes. The smoker inhales the vapors from the burning resin. Opium is an addictive drug. In the 19th century and the early 20th century, opium smoking was common worldwide, especially in Asia, which was one of the sources of the opium poppy.
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