I bought my spouse a nice South African gourd Meerschaum pipe recently. I have to say it smokes very well and does a terrific job of conveying the attributes of an aromatic blend so I'd like to get another at some point. While cleaning out our pipes on the weekend like I usually do (the others are all briar) I also attended to the Meer for the first time. Upon taking the block off I noticed the underside of the bowl was cracked in four places. I rarely run a pipe cleaner through the bowl, as its a gourd base, and I certainly do not use Alcool anywhere on that pipe nor was it dropped. Cleaning involves a pipe cleaner now and again and a paper towel twisted around in the gourd. The gentleman that made it for me is looking after me very well so I am getting it repaired but what the heck happened to crack it? I don't want to damage it again but I don't know how it broke in the first place. Its block Meerschaum and I received it new and in fine shape mid June. We have over a dozen pipes so it wasn't smoked a lot. My only thought as to cause is one of us is too hot a smoker and that may have had something to do with the damage but I am only guessing. Any suggestions would be appreciated as to cause and more important prevention as I'd like to get another Meer but not if they break so easily. Last point I should make is we've only started pipe smoking since the beginning of the year and though I am learning online and from pipe books I can't know it all this fast! Thanks in advance.