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HOOKAH HISTORY

There are two theories regarding the origin of the hookah. The first is that following the introduction of tobacco to medieval India by the Jesuits, the waterpipe was invented by Abu’l-Fath Gilani, a Persian physician of Akbar, in the Indian city of Fatehpur Sikri during Mughal India; the hookah spread from the Indian subcontinent to Persia first, where the mechanism was modified to its current shape, and then to the Near East. Alternatively, it could originate in the Safavid dynasty of Persia, from where it eventually spread to the east into the Indian subcontinent during that time.

The word hookah is a derivative of "huqqa", a Hindustani term. Outside its native region, hookah smoking has gained popularity throughout the world, especially among younger people, largely due to immigrants from the Levant, where it is especially popular.

Names and etymology

Mughal emperor Jahangir's jade hookahNational Museum, New Delhi, India.
Karim Khan of Persia seated in his royal court in Shiraz, using a Qaelyan (1755).

In the Indian subcontinent, the word huqqa is used (Devanagar, Eastern Nagari, Nastaleeq); this word is the origin of the English word "hookah". The widespread use of the Indian word "hookah" in the English language is a result of the colonization in British India(1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Calcutta, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:

The most highly-dressed and splendid hookah was prepared for me. I tried it, but did not like it. As after several trials I still found it disagreeable, I with much gravity requested to know whether it was indispensably necessary that I should become a smoker, which was answered with equal gravity, "Undoubtedly it is, for you might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without ...[I] have frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their dinner than their hookah."
Argilah or Argileh , sometimes pronounced Argilee) is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Iraq, while Nargilah (Hebrew) is the name most commonly used in Israel. It derives from nārghile (Persian?), which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word nārikela meaning coconut, suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells. In Persian, it is known as qalyān?).

In Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, na[r]gile is used to refer to the pipe, while šiša refers to the tobacco that is smoked in it.[citation needed] The pipes there often have one or two mouth pieces. The flavored tobacco, created by marinating cuts of tobacco in a multitude of flavored molasses, is placed above the water and covered by pierced foil with hot coals placed on top, and the smoke is drawn through cold water to cool and filter it. In Albania, the hookah is called "lula" or "lulava". In Romania, it is called narghilea.

"Narguile"[27] is the common word in Spain used to refer to the pipe, although "cachimba" is also used, along with "shisha" by Moroccan immigrants in Spain. The word "Narguile" is also the word used in Brazilian Portuguese.

Shisha or sheesha , from the Persian word, meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt, Sudan and countries of the Arab Peninsula (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia), and in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Somalia. In Yemen, the term mada'a is also used, but for pipes using pure tobacco.

In Persia, hookah is called "Qalyān". Persian qalyan is included in the earliest European compendium on tobacco, the tobacolgia written by Johan Neander and published in Dutch in 1622. It seems that over time water pipes acquired a Persian connotation as in eighteenth-century Egypt the most fashionable pipes were called Karim Khan after the Persian ruler of the day. This is also the name used in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

 

History

Smoking the Hookah, a painting by Rudolf Ernst

In the Indian city of Fatehpur Sikri, Roman Catholic missionaries of the Society of Jesusarriving from the southern part of the country introduced tobacco to the Mughal emperorAkbar the Great (1542-1605 AD).[39] Louis Rousselet writes that the physician of Akbar, Hakim Aboul Futteh Ghilani, then invented the hookah in India. However, a quatrain of Ahli Shirazi (d. 1535), a Persian poet, refers to the use of the ?alyan (Falsafi, II, p. 277; Semsar, 1963, p. 15), thus dating its use at least as early as the time of the Shah ?ahmasp I. It seems, therefore, that Abu’l-Fath Gilani should be credited with the introduction of the ?alyan, already in use in Persia, into India.

There is, however, no evidence of the existence of the water pipe until the 1560s. Moreover, tobacco is believed to have arrived in India in the 17th century, until then cannabis was smoked in India, so that suggests another substance was probably smoked in Ahli Shirazi's quatrain, perhaps through some other method. Following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani, who came from Gilan, a province in the north of Persia, migrated to Hamarastan. He later became a physician in the Mughal court and raised health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen. He subsequently envisaged a system that allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'. Gilani introduced the ?alyan after Asad Beg, the ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar I to take up smoking. Following popularity among noblemen, this new device for smoking soon became a status symbol for the Indian aristocracy and gentry.

Following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani, who came from Gilan, a province in the north of Persia, migrated to Hamarastan. He later became a physician in the Mughal court and raised health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen. He subsequently envisaged a system that allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'. Gilani introduced the ?alyan after Asad Beg, the ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar I to take up smoking. Following popularity among noblemen, this new device for smoking soon became a status symbol for the Indian aristocracy and gentry.

Modern development

Instead of copper, brass, and low quality alloys, manufacturers increasingly use stainless steel and aluminium. Silicone rubbercompounds are used for hookah hoses instead of leather and wire. New materials make modern hookahs more durable, eliminate odors while smoking and allow washing without risks of corrosion or bacterial decay. New technologies and modern design trends are changing the appearance of hookahs. Despite the obvious benefits of modern hookahs, because of high production cost and lack of modern equipment in traditional hookah manufacturing regions, most hookahs are still produced with older technologies.

 
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