Origins of Hookah

Origins of Hookah

The true history behind the origination of hookah is still debated to this day, however, extensive historical evidence has been able to approximate its origins. A quatrain of AhlīShirazi (d. 1535), a Persian poet, refers to the use of the ḡalyān (or “hookah”) (Falsafī, II, p. 277; Semsār, 1963, p. 15). This suggests its use at least as early as the 16th century, when Shah Ṭahmāsp I ruled during the Safavid Dynasty. From other sources,Cyril Elgood (PP.41, 110) in India notes that the physician Irfan Shaikh, at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542 - 1605 AD), invented the idea.[1][2][3][4] Other sources suggest that no evidence of the water pipe’s existence can be found until the 1560s.[5]
Other sources state that following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani ofGilan, Persia, migrated to Hamarastan.[6] He was responsible for raising health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen.[7] During this time, Gilani envisioned a system which allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'.[2] He introduced the ḡalyān after Asad Beg, the ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar I to take up smoking.[2] Noblemen soon took up this new device, which became known as a status symbol for the Indian aristocracy and gentry.[2][4].

New Wave of Herbal Shisha

Moving on hundreds of years later to today, hookah developed into one of the most popular pastimes that is enjoyed by individuals of every age, from the young and modern to the old-school traditional crowd. During this time, people grew to realize more and more that smoking tobacco raises health concerns due to its carcinogenic properties, and began to raise concerns about the health effects of our favorite pastime. As time went on, the traditional shisha was altered with the use of herbs and other plant materials, to effectively create a new non-tobacco smokable shisha for consumers. Modern day alternative shisas are mainly based of sugar cane fibers, and smoke in a similar fashion compared to tobacco-based shisha without the similar harmful effects. Other alternatives also came about, including real fruits and different herbs / leaves (usually kept secret by manufacturers) to replace the tobacco in shisha, and have been relatively successful in providing the population a functional alternative to tobacco.

[1] Razpush, Shahnaz (15 December 2000). "ḠALYĀN". Encyclopedi a Iranica. pp. 261–265. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
[2] Sivaramakrishnan, V. M. (2001). Tobacco and Areca Nut. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. pp. 4–5. ISBN 81-250-2013-6.
[3] Blechynden, Kathleen (1905). Calcutta, Past and Present. Los Angeles: University of California. p. 215.
[4] Rousselet, Louis (1875). India and Its Native Princes: Travels in Central India and in the Presidencies of Bombay and Bengal. London: Chapman and Hall. p. 290.
[5] "TOBACCO – EncyclopaediaIranica". Iranicaonline.org. 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2013-09-03.
[6] "History of Shisha". ShishAware. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
[7] "An Oriental Delight". Medium. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
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