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So where exactly did this form of smoking start from?

Posted on June 29 2017

It might only be fairly new to us, but in reality, we're going to take you back to the 1600's!

Known for its many different names including, argileh, narghile, shisha, hubble-bubble or goza. The hookah began as just another word for water pipes and is used to smoke specially made flavoured tobacco.

The hookah is used in several different countries and many argue the origins of the pipe. There is no exact evidence that the hookah existed until the 1950’s.

In the Arab world and the Middle East, they’re better known as argileh or shisha pipes and are part of the culture and traditions. The majority of café’s in the Middle East offer shisha as part of their menu and are used as a social gathering.

Within Persia, the earliest known evidence of the hookah in a literal sense comes from a Persian poet, referring to the hookah as a Galyan. Suggesting that the hookah pipe was already being used before it made its way to India. Persia was using Galyan within their schools, being used by both teachers and students while lessons continued. Interestingly enough, during the time of Abbas II of Persia between 1642-1666, the use of the water pipe had become a national addiction.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is currently in the process of implementing a general smoking ban in public area’s that will include shisha. Sadly, for some patrons, certain cities have also already banned nargileh cafes.

The argileh is popular particularly with older men in Syria during most of the twentieth century. Moving into the 1990’s, the popularity of the hookah had a high increase among the youth and young adults. 

Several households use a hookah for smoking or decoration purposes in Pakistan. In big cities, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was forced to ban the use of the hookah within cafes and restaurants due to café owners offering shisha to minors 

Flavoured shisha was only introduced into Bangladesh in the early 2000’s. From there, hookah lounges spread quickly between 2008-2011. Shisha became a popular past time among young people as well as the middle-aged used as a relaxation and social method.

Southeast Asia used the shisha predominantly throughout the Arab and Indian communities. The use of the shisha as a pastime between the youth-orientated patrons in Asia has only grown recently. Hookah became popular with college students and young adults who are underage, being unable to purchase cigarettes.

Known as the hubbly-bubbly in South Africa, or the Okka Pipe, it’s popularity is growing between the Cape Malay and Indian populations where the shisha is smoked as a social pastime. The terminology is different within South Africa referring to the head/bowl as a clay pot. The hoses are referred to as pipes and the air release valve is known as the clutch. Also, making or preparing the clay pot on a shisha is referred to as ‘racking the hubbly’. 

The United States and Canada like to do things a little differently. The shisha pipe was smoked at small gatherings with the hookah pipe passed around with uses partaking. Although open flames were used on the hookah instead of burning coals. In many cities, indoor smoking bans have taken place and hookah bars have been forced to either close their doors or switch to tobacco-free mixtures. Nobody wants that! 

All in all, we’re excited that one instrument can be used widely among different cultures around the world, have many different names, and bring people together.

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