History Of Hookah

History Of Hookah

Hookah has been a status symbol for more than a hundred years now, but not many know the history of hookah. To briefly say, "What is a hookah?” The meaning is a jar, pot, or container, but to say more, it is a water pipe originally used to smoke tobacco. The native smoking tradition has existed for more than four centuries, making tobacco smoking more acceptable among the masses.

People know about hookah, but only a few know the history of hookah and its evolution over the centuries. They are intrigued and curious to know about the actual origin and spread, and to quench their thirst, here is this article.

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Invention Of The First Hookah

Hakim Abul Fatteh Gillani, a resident of Fatehpur Sikri, India, made the first-ever hookah. It was about the mid-1500s when it was introduced. In this Era, tobacco was among the newly launched substances, and people looked for different ways to consume it. The first conventional hookah had a broad-based jar made of glass. This purified the smoke.

Hookah was considered a hobby of the nobles. It was specially presented to the guests at royal dinners or in other gatherings of honorable personalities.

Origins Of The Hookah

The origin is from the Eastern world. Smoking pipe was always considered the hobby of the aristocrats and the nobles. There are three countries thought to give birth to the hookah legacy. These are India, Iran and Ethiopia. The exact origins are still not sure, but from what is present and what we have seen in history books and heard about it, the origin is mostly from the Indian or Middle Eastern areas. 

Origin In India

It was around the 16th century when tobacco started to gain a lot of popularity among the masses. Portugal imported tobacco from Brazil, and the route passed through India. Akbar was given tobacco by the Mughal Ambassador, Asad Baig, one of his colleagues. The taste and effects of tobacco amused Akbar and he started using tobacco frequently. It was unfiltered and could cause a lot of health risks, hence his physician devised a hookah. Hence, the first ever was made in India by Hakim Abul Fateh Gillani, the physician of Akbar. It had a glass jar for the purification of the smoke. Hence a safer option for tobacco consumption was created.

Origin In Iran

There are many claims that Iran is the country to give the origin of hookahs. To dig deeper into the history of hookah, Portugal also dealt with tobacco through Persians in Iran. In the 16th century, the Shah of Iran banned tobacco, which was considered illegal to consume, yet honorable personalities used to have it. They had wooden or steel pots, called “qalyans,” to hold the water separately for consumption.

It is also said that Akbar’s physician, Hakim Abul Fateh Gillani was Persian, so he introduced his Iranian way of having tobacco in India. So the Iranians claim that it was their invention while the Indians claim it has an Indian origin. And this debate has not been solved to date and hence the history of hookah remains vague in this regard.

Origin in Ethiopia

The history of hookah tells us that it has an Ethiopian origin because of the remains found in the caves that date back to the 11th century. These remains are water pipes made of wood and coconut. Hence, it is assumed that Ethiopians were the first to come up with this idea of consuming tobacco.

Spread Across the Globe

The origin of hookah might be vague, but its transcend in other countries is more vivid and evident. After its origin in India and Iran, it became a nobility symbol, and tobacco consumption normalized. It became such a thing of elites that a servant was appointed especially for the maintenance. It was until the 17th century that it started to get mass acceptance and was no longer considered a taboo. 

Now, let's discuss how it originated in other countries.

Spread To Turkey

In the 18th century, hookah found its way to Turkey. The Turkish were very open to accepting the idea, and it did not take long to become extremely popular in the country. The Turkish reconsidered the structural designs and made some amendments. They added religious and cultural images on the smoking pipes.

Also  it became a symbol of trust among turkish people. Theystarted to offer a hookah after every gathering as a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and trust. For influential personalities, offering hookah was considered as presenting the deal, and rejecting having it would be considered as rejecting the presented proposal.

Spread To Egypt And Morocco

In the 19th century, hookah became famous in Eastern and Southern areas, mostly in the South African regions, and from there, Egypt discovered it. Soon, there were clubs and lounges set up for the public. Also, Egyptians were the first ones to try out different flavors along with tobacco. They would add honey, lemon, and different other things with tobacco to have a different taste.

Spread To America

It was in the 21st century when America discovered hookah. The United States then came up with new shapes and structural designs. It is now popular in about all the United Nations states.

Modern Development In Hookah

Basic structural designs were present long ago, but the next generations kept working on better structural designs, and now we even have E-hookahs.

There are huge manufacturing units and markets in the USA. Hookahs have globally evolved from simple basic structures of smoking pipes to battery-operated ones called E-hookahs. The quality of products has drastically changed. Different parts are available in the market, including hoses and bowls. There are more accessories available as well. There are different flavors available to enjoy other than raw tobacco. E-hookahs are considered more as vaporizing. 

Vaporizing Vs. Traditional Hookah Smoke

Smoking pipes, and  e-hookahs are available in the market. People can choose from both of them depending upon their personal preferences. What does hookah do? Coals heat water, and then the steam purifies the hookah smoke.

On the other hand, an e-hookah is a battery-operated device that produces smoke. Currently, vaporizing is a new trend and is being accepted by the population very well, mostly because of the portability factor and feasibility.

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Wrapping up

History of hookah reveals that people from all social classes, religions, and political ideologies are united into a large community because of the hookah culture. Although it has evolved, the tradition has not changed much. And it is a religious and cultural expression for many individuals from various nationalities.