The Origin of the Hookah

John Guccione

History of the HookahThis article is intended for adults aged 18 years or older.

The word hookah is a derivative of "huqqa", which is a Hindustani word of Arabic origin meaning "water pipe".

History's first documented notation of a water pipe (or hookah) was recorded in 1535 by a Persian poet who refers to a "ḡalyān" (water pipe) in a quatrain (also known as a poem or 4 line stanza).

Not long after, in 1542 in the an ancient city in India, Fatehpur Sikri was the location where Roman Catholic missionaries of the Society of Jesus arriving from the southern part of the country where supposed to have introduced tobacco to the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great.  This contradicts with other reports that tobacco was believed to have arrived in India in the 17th century, until then cannabis was smoked in India. This suggests another substance was probably smoked in Ahlī Shirazi's quatrain and also offered by the jesuits to Akbar the Great, and also perhaps through some other method.

It was again in the 1560's, following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, when an Indian physician named Gilani in the Mughal court, raised health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen. He subsequently envisaged a system that allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'.

SyriancafeFinding favor among noblemen, the hookah became a symbol of status in India.  As time went on, the use of tobacco and the hookah spread among classes and countries. From its origins in South Asia and the Middle East, to Southeast Asia and to South Africa, and now in modern times to the United States and Canada.

Today, hookahs are readily available for sale at smoke shops and some gas stations across the United States, along with a variety of tobacco brands and accessories. However, if you wish to purchase a quality hookah, we recommend that you follow our blog to learn "what makes a quality hookah".

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