For centuries, Hookah smoking has been looked upon as an art form that's been passed down from generation to generation throughout the Middle East. These water pipes were quite common during the 17th century, frequently found in coffee shops along the narrow streets of the region. Since this time, the Hookah Pipe, also known as a Narghile or Narghila, Shisha or Sheesha, Water-Pipe and/or a Hubbly Bubbly (all depending on your location on the globe), has inspired many great discussions. Such topics included politics, religion and everyday common events as the pipe was set in the center of a gathered group and the attached hose is passed from smoker to smoker, all while partaking in some interesting conversation and sharing some all-around good times.
It's believed that the very first Hookah Pipe design was crafted out of a coconut shell in either India or Persia, and then quickly spread through the rest of the Arab world. But it was in Turkey that the Hookah was given some finishing touches and found its final form, not really changing at all in the 350+ years since. When the 20th century arrived, the Hookah Pipe was such a fashion icon that upper-class Turkish women were photographed with their pipe, making it a significant status symbol in the process. Western artists captured the Hookah essence by adding its exotic image in their Oriental paintings.
The Hookah uses all five senses. First, it's visually appealing as a collectable piece of art. Touch is obvious through operation of the pipe. Taste and smell are satisfied through smoking, and the audible component is found in the gurgling water. Such a combination is nothing short of pleasing and relaxing to the masses that gather around the world to partake in Hookah smoking.
What did they Smoke in Hookah Pipes?
Shisha (also referred to as Tombac, Gouza, Moassel or Sheesha) was and still is the premier choice of Hookah smokers around the globe. This special blend of dark Shisha leaves, fruit pulp, molasses or honey, and glycerin contains only 0.5% nicotine and no tar. Shisha flavors have grown to include some interesting blends like Banana Split, Cherry Cola, Double Apple, and Pina Colada. Classic favorites like melon, Mango, French Vanilla and Tropical Pine will always have a loyal following. Many Hookah smokers will occasionally opt to add ice, fruit juice, milk, or even wine to the water in the glass base to alter the texture, taste or effect of the smoke.
Recent years have seen a growing demand for Hookah Pipes in the US, as a new restaurant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas features a Hookah smoking lounge for gamblers who simply want a break. Both coasts have seen an increase in demand for Hookah Pipes, as clusters of hookah smokers can now be seen in Chicago and South Beach nightclubs, as well as outdoor California coastal cafes.