History of Hookah - Origin and Background

Shisha Wasserpfeifen

The Hookah - Origin and Background


 Only a centuries-long development made the Hookah to the fruity-light smoking instrument, which nowadays enjoys worldwide fame and popularity.

The history of the hookah took its origin in the northern regions of India. The Sanskrit word Nārikela (नारीकेल), which is the basis for the Turkish name of the water pipe Nargile, translates as coconut and gives a clue to the first forms of production of the Hookah: Thus, the bowl at that time consisted of the hard and waterproof shell of the coconut, the smoke column of a hollow bamboo stick and as a tube was probably used a straw or another, thinner bamboo stick.

Smoked were, unlike today, whole tobacco leaves (Tömbeki, Turkish). Lightly moistened with water, the tobacco was rolled into a cylindrical shape around a stick, leaving a small shaft in the middle. The charcoal, at that time simple charcoal, for example again from the trunk of the coconut tree, was then placed directly on the tobacco.

Via Persia, between the 16th and 17th centuries, the hookah finally came to Arabia, the Ottoman Empire (today's Turkey) and North Africa, especially Tunisia and Egypt. In Turkey, hookah smoking was introduced in 1603 by Sultan Ahmed I, who had a reputation for a pleasurable and epicurean lifestyle. From there, the hookah has evolved over the years to become a cultural asset of Arab countries. It symbolizes a balanced way of life, hospitality and conviviality.

What kind of tobacco is it?

The water pipe tobacco commonly used today is soaked in molasses and mixed with various fruit and flavor aromas. Legend has it that an Egyptian accidentally let some sugar cane syrup drip onto his burning pipe tobacco while eating. The sweet aroma is said to have so convinced the old man that he cultivated the syrup-tobacco mixture.

History of hookah, a journey through time