Name and etymology
The hookah is an instrument used for smoking flavored tobacco. As you might already know, the vapor resulted from this is sent into a glass water basin before it’s inhaled. The hookah has become a very popular instrument upon its invention and numerous people from all over the world are using it as the means to relax and enjoy their time. Since its creation, the hookah has become very popular, hence it has a large spread all over the world and, of course, numerous names. The hookah is also known as waterpipe, shisha, qalyan, arghila, narghile and other derivatives, depending on the region where it’s used. The term hookah on its own comes from Arabic.
Based on the writings of Cyril Elgood, it seems that the hookah on its own has been invented by the physicist named Irfan Shaikh as he tried to develop new relaxation methods for his emperor named Akbar I. The origins of the hookah seem to come from Persia, with the poet Ahli Shirazi referring to it as being very popular in the year 1500 in the Persian region.
After achieving a lot of popularity in Persia, Abu’l-Fath Gilani introduced this in India. Despite this, there aren’t any evidences of water pipe usage until 1560. Moreover, there’s no indication what exactly the Persians were smoking with the hookah, since tobacco reached Persia sometime during the XVIIth century. Still, it’s clear the device was invented in Persia, with the Europeans being the one that brought the tobacco in this region. For a very long time, the hookah was a symbol of aristocracy as well as gentry.
At first, the hookah was created with the help of low quality alloys, copper and brass, which made it very easy to more around but not that efficient, not to mention that it was damaged easily as well. In the modern times, we can find hookahs created using aluminum and stainless steel. Moreover, the hookah had to deal with low quality materials in its early days, with wires and leather that weren’t durable. Nowadays, silicone rubber compounds are used in order to increase the durability of the device, as well as eliminate odors and make them healthier, bacteria-free.
Each culture seems to use the hookah in a different manner. The Middle Eastern persons are using it because of their tradition and culture, whereas countries such as India, Pakistan or Bangladesh see it as a sign of wealth. In the US, Canada and Europe, the hookah is an interesting way to consume tobacco which has become increasingly popular in the past few years.
The hookah entered history with the means of relaxing humans, and it has done that for centuries now. Despite material changes, the concept and results are roughly the same. This clearly shows that the need to relax and enjoy our time has increased quite a lot in the recent years and it will surely increase as we move onward into the future!