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A hookah (hukkā, Hukić, هوكة ‒ also known as a waterpipe, narghile, arghila, qalyān, or shisha) is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin ‒ often glass-based ‒ before inhalation. Depending on the placement of the coal above the shisha, a hookah can be used to produce smoke by burning the shisha or used to create water vapor by melting it at a lower temperature. The origin of the waterpipe is from the time of the Safavid dynasty in the Persian empire which extended into India to where it also spread during that time. The hookah or Argyleh soon reached Egypt and the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan) during the Ottoman dynasty where it became very popular and where the mechanism was later perfected. The word hookah is a derivative of "huqqa", which is what the Arabs called it. Smoking the hookah has gained popularity outside of its native region, and is gaining popularity in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, Tanzania and South Africa, largely due to immigrants from the Levant (where it is especially popular) introducing it to the youth.
- 1 Names and etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Culture
- 4 Structure and operation
- 5 Health effects
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Names and etymology
Argilah or Argileh (Arabic: نارجيلة but sometimes pronounced Argileh or Argilee) is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Armenia, Jordan, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Israel, Uzbekistan and Iraq. Nargile derives from the Persian word nārghile, meaning coconut, which in turn is from the Sanskrit word nārikela (नारिकेल), suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells. In Albania, the hookah is called "lula" or "lulava".
In Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, na[r]gile (на[р]гиле; from Persian nargile) is used to refer to the pipe. Šiša (шиша) refers to the tobacco that is smoked in it. The pipes there often have one or two mouth pieces. The flavored tobacco, created by marinating cuts of tobacco in a multitude of flavored molasses, is placed above the water and covered by pierced foil with hot coals placed on top, and the smoke is drawn through cold water to cool and filter it.
Sheesha (شيشة), from the Persian word shīshe (شیشه), meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt, Sudan and countries of the Arab Peninsula (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia), and in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Somalia.
In Iran, hookah is called "Qalyān" (Persian:Qalyān). Persian qalyan is included in the earliest European compendium on tobacco, the tobacolgia written by Johan Neander and published in Dutch in 1622. It seems that over time water pipes acquired an Iranian connotation as in eighteenth-century Egypt the most fashionable pipes were called Karim Khan after the Iranian ruler of the day. This is also the name used in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
In India and Pakistan the name most similar to the English hookah is used: huqqa (हुक़्क़ा /حقّہ).
In Philippines, hookah is called "Hitboo" and normally used in smoking flavored marijuana. The hookah pipe is also known as the "Marra pipe" in the UK, especially in the North East, where it is used for recreational purposes.
The widespread use of the Indian word "hookah" in the English language is a result of the British Raj, the British dominion of India (1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Kolkata, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:
- The most highly-dressed and splendid hookah was prepared for me. I tried it, but did not like it. As after several trials I still found it disagreeable, I with much gravity requested to know whether it was indispensably necessary that I should become a smoker, which was answered with equal gravity, "Undoubtedly it is, for you might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without ...[I] have frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their dinner than their hookah.
According to Cyril Elgood (PP.41, 110) in India the physician Irfan Shaikh, at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542 - 1605 AD) invented the idea. However, a quatrain of Ahlī Shirazi (d. 1535), a Persian poet, refers to the use of the ḡalyān (Falsafī, II, p. 277; Semsār, 1963, p. 15), thus dating its use at least as early as the time of the Shah Ṭahmāsp I. It seems, therefore, that Abu’l-Fath Gilani should be credited with the introduction of the ḡalyān, already in use in Persia, into India. There is, however, no evidence of the existence of the water pipe until the 1560s. Moreover, tobacco is believed to have reached Persia around 1600, so that suggests another substance was probably smoked in Ahlī Shirazi's quatrain, perhaps through some other method.
Following the European introduction of tobacco to Persia and India, Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani, who came from Gilan, a province in the north of Iran, migrated to Hamarastan. He later became a physician in the Mughal court and raised health concerns after smoking tobacco became popular among Indian noblemen. He subsequently envisaged a system which allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be 'purified'. Gilani introduced the ḡalyān after Asad Beg, the ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar I to take up smoking. Following popularity among noblemen, this new device for smoking soon became a status symbol for the Indian aristocracy and gentry.
In the Middle East and Arab world, people smoke waterpipe as part of their culture and traditions. Social smoking is done with a single or double hose hookah, and sometimes even triple or quadruple hose hookahs in the forms of parties or small get-togethers are used. When the smoker is finished, either the hose is placed back on the table signifying that it is available, or it is handed from one user to the next, folded back on itself so that the mouthpiece is not pointing at the recipient. Local names of waterpipe in the middle east are, ghalyan or ḡalyān, shisha, argila, nargile, nafas, ḥoqqa, čelam/čelīm)
Most cafés in the Middle East offer shishas. Cafés are widespread and are amongst the chief social gathering places in the Arab world (akin to public houses in Britain). Some expatriate residents arriving in the Middle East adopt shisha cafés to make up for the lack of pubs in the region, especially where prohibition is in place.
The exact date of the first use of ḡalyān in Persia is not known. Although the Safavid Shah ʿAbbās I strongly condemned tobacco use, towards the end of his reign smoking ḡalyān and čopoq (q.v.) had become common on every level of the society, women included. In schools, both teachers and students had ḡalyāns while lessons continued (Falsafī, II, pp. 278–80). Shah Safi of Persia (r. 1629-42) declared a complete ban on tobacco, but the income received from its use persuaded him to soon revoke the ban. The use of ḡalyāns became so widespread that a group of poor people became professional tinkers of crystal water pipes. During the time of Abbas II of Persia (r. 1642-1666), use of the water pipe had become a national addiction (Chardin, tr., II, p. 899). The shah (king) had his own private ḡalyān servants. Evidently the position of water pipe tender (ḡalyāndār) dates from this time. Also at this time, reservoirs were made of glass, pottery, or a type of gourd. Because of the unsatisfactory quality of indigenous glass, glass reservoirs were sometimes imported from Venice (Chardin, tr., II, p. 892). In the time of Suleiman I of Persia (r. 1694-1722), ḡalyāns became more elaborately embellished as their use increased. The wealthy owned gold and silver pipes. The masses spent more on ḡalyāns than they did on the necessities of life (Tavernier apud Semsār, 1963, p. 16).
An emissary of Sultan Husayn (r.1722-32) to the court of Louis XV of France, on his way to the royal audience at Versailles, had in his retinue an officer holding his ḡalyān, which he used while his carriage was in motion (Herbette, tr. p. 7; Kasrawī, pp. 211–12; Semsār, 1963, pp. 18–19). We have no record indicating the use of ḡalyān at the court of Nader Shah, although its use seems to have continued uninterrupted. There are portraits of Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty of Iran and Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar which depict them smoking the ḡalyān. Iranians had a special tobacco called Khansar (خانسار, presumably name of the origin city, Khvansar). The charcoals would be put on the Khansar without foil. Khansar has less smoke than the normal tobacco.
In Syria, shisha is widely used, usually called "argila"; it is available on almost every corner. It has become part of Syria's everyday culture. It is normal to see a female smoking shisha in Syria. It is a very sociable activity, often involving games as well as smoking.
Nargile became part of Turkish culture from the 17th century. Back then, it became prominent in society and was used as a status symbol. Nargile was such an important Turkish custom that it even sparked a diplomatic crisis between France and the Ottoman Empire. Western Turkey is noted for its traditional pottery production where potters make earthenware objects, including nargile bowls.
The nargile drastically declined in popularity in the 20th century with the advent of cigarettes.
The concept of hookah is thought to have originated In India, once the province of the wealthy, it was tremendously popular especially during Mughal rule. The hookah has since become less popular; however, it is once again garnering the attention of the masses, and cafés and restaurants that offer it as a consumable are popular. The use of hookahs from ancient times in India was not only a custom, but a matter of prestige. Rich and landed classes would smoke hookahs.
Tobacco is smoked in hookahs in many villages as per traditional customs. Smoking tobacco-molasses is now becoming popular amongst the youth in India. There are several chain clubs, bars and coffee shops in India offering a wider variety of mu‘assels, including non-tobacco versions. Hookah was recently banned in Bangalore. However, it can be bought or rented for personal usage or organized parties.
Koyilandy, a small fishing town on the west coast of India, once made and exported hookahs extensively. These are known as Malabar Hookhas or Koyilandy Hookahs. Today these intricate hookahs are difficult to find outside of Koyilandy and are becoming difficult even to find in Koyilandy itself.
Although it has been traditionally prevalent in rural areas for generations, smoking hookahs has become very popular in the cosmopolitan cities of Pakistan. One can see many cafés in Pakistan offering hookah smoking to its guests. Even lots of households have hookahs for smoking or decoration purposes.
In Punjab, Pakhtunkhwa, and in northern Balochistan, the topmost part on which coals are placed is called chillum.
In big cities like Karachi and Lahore, cafes and restaurants offers Hookah and charged on per hours.
The hookah has been a traditional smoking instrument in Bangladesh, as it has been in India. However, flavored shisha was introduced in the early 2000s. Hookah lounges spread quite quickly between 2008–2011 and became popular among young people as well as middle-aged people as a relaxation method. There have been allegations of a government crack-down on hookah bars to prevent illicit drug usage.
Hookahs (हुक़्क़ा), especially wooden ones, are popular in Nepal. Use of hookahs is considered to symbolize elite family throughout history. These days hookahs are also getting popular among younger people and tourists. The main tourists places like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Dharan are famous for Hookah Bars. You can smoke hookahs at the rate of 175 Rs Minimum 
Hookah was virtually unknown in Southeast Asia before the latter 20th century, yet the popularity among contemporary younger people is now vastly growing. Southeast Asia's most cosmopolitan cities, Makati, Bangkok, Singapore, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, now have various bars and clubs that offer hookahs to patrons.
Although hookah use has been common for hundreds of years and enjoyed by people of all ages, it has just begun to become a youth-oriented pastime in Asia in recent times. Hookahs are most popular with college students, and young adults, who may be underage and thus unable to purchase cigarettes.
In South Africa, hookah, colloquially known as a hubbly bubbly or an okka pipe, is popular amongst the Cape Malay and Indian populations, wherein it is smoked as a social pastime. However, hookah is seeing increasing popularity with white South Africans, especially the youth. Bars that additionally provide hookahs are becoming more prominent, although smoking is normally done at home or in public spaces such as beaches and picnic sites.
In South Africa, the terminology of the various hookah components also differ from other countries. The clay "head/bowl" is known as a "clay pot". The hoses are called "pipes" and the air release valve is known as a "clutch".
The windscreen (which is considered optional and not used by most people) is known as an "As-jas", which directly translates from Afrikaans to English as an "ash-jacket". Also, making/preparing the "clay pot" is commonly referred to as "racking the hubbly".
United States and Canada
During the 1960s and 1970s, hookahs were a popular tool for the consumption of various derivations of tobacco, among other things. At parties or small gatherings the hookah hose was passed around with users partaking as they saw fit. Typically, though, open flames were used instead of burning coals.
Recently, certain cities, counties, and states have implemented indoor smoking bans. In some jurisdictions, hookah businesses can be exempted from the policies through special permits. Some permits, however, have requirements such as the business earning a certain minimum percentage of their revenue from alcohol or tobacco.
In cities with indoor smoking bans, hookah bars have been forced to close or switch to tobacco-free mixtures. In many cities though, hookah lounges have been growing in popularity. From the year 2000 to 2004, over 200 new hookah cafés opened for business, most of them targeted at young adults and located near college campuses or cities with large Middle-Eastern communities. This activity continues to gain popularity within the post-secondary student demographic. According to a 2011 study, 40.3 percent of college and university students surveyed had smoked tobacco from a hookah. As of July 8, 2013, at least 1,178 college or university campuses in the U.S. have adopted 100% smokefree campus policies that eliminate smoking in indoor and outdoor areas across the entire campus, including residences.
Structure and operation
Excluding grommets, a hookah consists of a number of components, four of which are essential for its operation.
Also known as the head of the hookah, the bowl is a container, usually made out of clay, marble or glass that holds the coal and tobacco during the smoking session. The bowl is loaded with tobacco then covered in a small piece of perforated aluminum foil or screen typically glass or metal. Lit coals are then placed on top, which allows the tobacco to heat to the proper temperature.
There is also a variation of the head which employs a fruit rather than the traditional clay bowl. The fruit is hollowed out and perforated in order to achieve the same shape and system a clay bowl has, then it is loaded and used in the same manner.
Bowls have evolved in recent years to incorporate new designs that keep juices in the tobacco from running down the stem. The Tangiers Phunnel Bowl and Sahara Smoke Vortex Bowl are two examples of such bowls.
A Hookah Cover windscreen is a cover which sits over the bowl area, with some form of air holes. This prevents wind from increasing the burn rate and temperature of the coal, and prevents ash and burning embers from being blown onto the surrounding environment. This may also offer some limited protection from fire as it may prevent the coal from being ejected if the hookah is bumped.
Technically, if the pipe has a hose, it is not a "hookah", the term historically referred to a straight-neck tube. Today, the hose (one or more) is a slender flexible tube that allows the smoke to be drawn for a distance, cooling down before inhalation. The end is typically fitted with a metal, wooden, or plastic mouthpiece of different shapes, size, color or material type. According to J.S. Gamble in A Manual of Indian Timbers in 1902 (Page 668), the bark of the white Himalayan birch Betula utilis ssp. jacquemontii was used to make early hookah tubes.
Many hookah are equipped with a purge valve connected to the airspace in the water jar to purge stale smoke which has been sitting unused in the jar for too long. This one-way valve is typically a simple ball bearing sitting over a port which seals the port by gravity alone and will open if positive pressure is created by blowing into the hose. The bearing is held captive with a screw-on cover. The cover should be opened and the bearing and seat cleaned of residue and corrosion regularly to ensure proper sealing.
The body of the hookah sits on top of the water jar, or sometimes referred to as vase, or base. The downstem hangs down below the level of the water in the jar. Smoke passes through the body and out the downstem where it bubbles through the water. This cools and humidifies the smoke. Liquids such as fruit juice may be added to the water or used in substitution. Pieces of fruit, mint leaves, and crushed ice may be added.
A plate or ashtray sits just below the bowl to catch ashes falling off the coals.
Grommets in a hookah are usually placed between the bowl and the body, the body's gasket and the water jar and between the body and the hose. The grommets, although not essential (the use of paper or tape has become common), will help to seal the joints between the parts, therefore decreasing the amount of air coming in and maximizing the smoke breathed in.
A piece attached to the bottom of the stem, usually made of plastic and in a grid pattern, to make a smoother smoke and a subdued noise. By breaking the naturally larger bubbles coming up the water from the pipe into smaller bubbles, it lowers the amount of suction or "pull" needed to continue bringing smoke to the chamber. This also cools the smoke down more efficiently. It is used as a luxury item used for a better smoking experience and is not a required component.
Tobacco or Mu‘assel (Arabic: معسل which means "honeyed"), also sometimes called Shisha in places where it does not refer to the Hookah itself, is a syrupy tobacco mix with molasses and vegetable glycerol as moisturizer and specific flavors added to it. Typical flavors of mu‘assel include apple, grape, guava, lemon, mint, as well as many other fruit based mixes. Non tobacco based mu'assel is also available in certain areas where tobacco smoking is not allowed.
Charcoal is the source of energy to produce heat that will be transferred to the tobacco inside the bowl. Since the glycerol is used to moisturize the tobacco, then to produce smoke, the charcoal should be able to generate heat above the boiling point of glycerol that is 290 °C. Therefore, charcoal for hookah smoking must be hard, high density, easy to ignite, and burn longer with persistent heat.
The jar at the bottom of the hookah is filled with water sufficient to submerge a few centimeters of the body tube, which is sealed tightly to it. Deeper water will only increase the inhalation force needed to use it. Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah. Often the bowl is covered with perforated tin foil or a metal screen and coal placed on top. The foil or screen separates the coal and the tobacco, which minimizes inhalation of coal ash with the smoke and reduces the temperature the tobacco is exposed to, in order to prevent burning the tobacco directly.
When one inhales through the hose, air is pulled through the charcoal and into the bowl holding the tobacco. The hot air, heated by the charcoal vaporizes (not burns) the tobacco, thus producing smoke, which is passed down through the body tube that extends into the water in the jar. It bubbles up through the water, losing heat, and fills the top part of the jar, to which the hose is attached. When a smoker inhales from the hose, smoke passes into the lungs, and the change in pressure in the jar pulls more air through the charcoal, continuing the process.
If the hookah has been lit and smoked but has not been inhaled for an extended period, the smoke inside the water jar may be regarded as "stale" and undesirable. Stale smoke may be exhausted through the purge valve, if present. This one-way valve is opened by the positive pressure created from gently blowing into the hose. It will not function on a multiple-hose hookah unless all other hoses are plugged. Sometimes one-way valves are put in the hose sockets to avoid the need to manually plug hoses.
A 2005 WHO report states that smoking using a waterpipe poses a serious potential health hazard and is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. The average hookah session typically lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 to 200 inhalations that each range from 0.15 to 0.50 liters of smoke. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke of a cigarette. The chemical compositions of cigarette smoke and hookah smoke are different, however, as the workings of the charcoal in the modern hookah causes the tobacco mixture to be heated to a lower temperature, as opposed to the higher temperature in a cigarette where the tobacco is directly burnt. Consequently, the potential health effects of hookah smoke are expected to be very different.
Despite a different chemical composition of the smoke, it is expected that heavy and long term use still has the potential to lead to diseases generally induced by tobacco, notably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mixtures with lighter concentrations or tobacco-free alternatives (e.g. tobamel, tea-leaf, molasses and glycerin-soaked stones) are widely available and aim to reduce the negative effects of tobacco.
A 2008 aetiological study on hookah smoking and cancer led by a group of Pakistani researchers found that overall serum CEA levels (as a biological marker for cancer) in exclusive hookah smokers, who had been using weight equivalents of up to 60 cigarettes of tobacco in daily sessions for decades, were higher than in non-smokers but substantially lower than those recorded in cigarette smokers considering the same amount of tobacco. The study also concluded that heavy and non-moderate hookah smoking (2–4 daily preparations; 3–8 sessions a day; 2 to 6 hours net daily smoking time) substantially raises CEA levels.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hookahs.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Hookah.|
- WHO Report on water pipe (hookah), by WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg).
- Critique of the WHO Report on water pipe (hookah) by Chaouachi Kamal. A Critique of WHO's TobReg "Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions by Regulators". Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine 2006 (17 Nov); 5:17
- Scientific Evidence of the Health Risks of Hookah Smoking (University of Maryland, College Park: 9 June 2008, vol 17, issue 23