"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs" -- William Shakespeare
A hookah, or water pipe, is typically made of glass. Water is used to cool tobacco smoke before inhalation. The hookah originated in India and Iran in the sixteenth century, where it was seen as a good way to purify the smoke before it entered a person’s body.
The hookah soon spread into Pakistan and the Middle East. It has since become popular in other parts of the world and hookahs can be found in North and South America, Europe, Australia and parts of Africa.
(top image credit: Ailantus, bottom right photo, taken in 1905, is by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, via)
Today, hookahs are created in a wide variety of designs. Meduse Design makes some exceptional modern shapes:
The water pipe has become popular around the world and is being used more often in its traditional places of origin in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. In the Western world, where restrictions on tobacco use continue to be introduced, lounges and cafes that allow hookah smoking have appeared. Despite the different chemical composition of the smoke that’s inhaled, hookah smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarettes and can still lead to tobacco related medical conditions.
The name hookah is thought to derive from the Indian word huqqa. British people first became aware of the water pipe when they spent time in India during the days of the Empire and most likely translated the local word into an English version:
The most common water pipe design originates in the Middle East. The smoker inhales through a hose, which draws the smoke down from the bowl into the water. The smoke goes to the upper part of the jar after bubbling through the water, hence the alternative name hubble bubble. The smoke then enters the hose through which it’s inhaled:
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