A hookah pipe is considered to be just another medium to smoke and relish tobacco. However, its cultural antecedents are far deep-rooted to make it so significant in today's time.
Once restricted to and reserved for the royals, imperials, and noble ranks as a symbol of status, all strata of the society now enjoy the hookah pipe. Sharing a hookah pipe was also an indicator of trust between parties in a dispute as a sign of resolution.
With its distinct characteristics like a long-lasting burn, uniquely shaped mouthpiece, variety of flavors, and an efficient water filtration mechanism, it almost feels like the hookah was designed for shared smoking. This article shall, therefore, trace the origins of this pipe that we all love.
Origins of Hookah in India
In the midst of multiple origins, the world is in general agreement on the belief that the first hookah pipe was discovered in 16th century India. The inspiration for the same is believed to be the cargoes of Brazilian-grown tobacco leaves in Portuguese trade vessels across the subcontinental trade routes.
These leaves were once a gift by the Mughal ambassador Asad Beg to Emperor Akbar. However, concerned with the harmful effects of unfiltered smoking on his health, the emperor's chief physician, Abu’l-Fath Gilani, suggested the passing of tobacco smoke in the water.
The apparatus of a glass vase was molded to effectuate the aforementioned directions and hence, gave rise to the first hookah pipe in traceable history.
Origins of Hookah in Iran
In the same time period as above, the Persians in Iran were introduced to tobacco by the Portuguese. Despite embargos on smoking by the Shah of Iran, tobacco was nevertheless traded and smoked in large volumes by the Persian royals.
The Persians thus, invented the qalyan (translates to 'bubbling') to smoke the tobacco in a heavily engraved metal or wood pipe. Since Abu'l-Fath Gilani was also a Persian, it is disputed whether the first pipe originated in India or had existed in Iran before.
Origins of Hookah in Ethiopia
Some also believe that the origins of hookah can also be traced to 12th-century Ethiopia, where coconut shells, animal horns, and pottery were used to make water pipes. The term 'nargileh' (Sanskrit for coconut) adds credence to this belief.
Despite multiple possible origins, hookahs are enjoyed universally, and puff21 is the only stop for hookahs.