The hookah has a long, rich, and colorful history to it. Many don’t realize that hookah pipes are actually hundreds of years old and have a complex origin, dispersed across continents, peoples, and countries. Here we will go over some of the basic historical facts about the hookah. By the end of this explanation, it should become clear how amazingly detailed and unique the pipe’s history really is. The hookah is not just a passing curiosity, but a major player in cultures all over the world.
Let’s jump right in!
The hookah is widely believed to have been first created somewhere in the Northwest of India, on the border of Pakistan. Some experts have argued, however, that it originally came from Persia and was then transported to India. In any case, the hookah migrated from India to the countries of Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Egypt.
From there, it made its way all over the Middle East. Afterward, it was brought to Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe, becoming a staple of many different cultures and a popular product for all sorts of people. This lead directly into its rise as a popular commodity and ubiquitous cultural phenomenon with a well-versed and highly appreciated community of enthusiasts.
Early hookahs were much simpler and more basic than their modern-day counterparts. They were originally made from coconuts and their tubes were simply repurposed bamboo. The original name for a hookah, narghile, is actually derived from the Sanskrit word for coconut. Other countries and cultures have names for the hookah derived from other words, such as glass.
In the early 16th century, Europeans first brought tobacco to Persia. It quickly spread like wildfire in popularity and general use, leading to its migration into surrounding areas. People all across the region were enamoured with tobacco and wanted to have as much of it as possible!
The hookah is generally thought by experts to have originated as a healthier way to smoke tobacco. The rise and embrace of tobacco in India and the surrounding cultures had lead to concerns about the ill effects of smoking it directly, known even then. It was speculated that a device could be created to allow for an easier and more indirect means of consuming tobacco, leading to the creation of the hookah pipe.
While areas for hookah consumption, known as hookah bars or lounges, had once fallen out of favor, they have seen something of a revival in recent years. Some people prefer to use hookah in a traditional fashion, while others have become more experimental in their use. It’s not uncommon to see hookah enthusiasts modern metals to construct highly sophisticated water pipes for tobacco use.
Hookahs have also been redesigned in many cases to give them a more sleek and modern look, especially for younger consumers. While there have been definite efforts to revamp the hookah and bring it into the 21st century, you will still have no problems finding traditionally oriented fans who prefer to keep it the way it’s always been. It’s simply a matter of preference and choice!