The history of the oriental water pipe (shisha)
A shisha is an oriental water pipe to smoke flavoured tobacco. The word "shisha" is Persian and stands for the word "glass". The word is mostly used instead of the English "water pipe", but it can also be called "hookah" which is the common American English word for it.
The oriental water pipe is originated in India and is similar to a bong. These days it is also known as Hookah, Sheesha, Schischa, Nargile or Narghileh in different parts of the world.
The main difference between a bong and a shisha is, that the requires a permanent heating source like a charcoal. The water pipe tobacco contains moisture with different flavours and is heated by the charcoal. The moisture vaporizes and the characteristically big smoke clouds are produced. By pulling the air through the hose of the water pipe, the smoke is floating through the stem into the vase with water. The water (it is also possible to use other fluids like milk or even cola) is chilling the smoke, so it is possible to inhale much more smoke than with a cigarette. A filter effect of water is controversial, though.
In the Arabic language, the water pipe is called "Nargila" or "Argila", but also "Hubbly Bubbly" is a common word for it and possibly originates from the typical sound of shisha smoking. In the Turkish language the water pipe is called "Nargile", while the most common English names are "shisha" or "hookah".
Most shishas have valves as well to blow the smoke out. For instance they are used whenever the smoke is harsh because of too much heat. The vase is filling with new, unburnt smoke again.
The hose of a water pipe is mostly made of leather or artificial leather. Leather hoses can have a characteristic sweet aftertaste.
Most water pipes are made of metal, but there are also wooden or glass shishas, but they are quite rare. A standard shisha is between 50 - 70 cm (20" - 30") tall. There are models with more than one hose port, but the most common shishas are only delivered with one hose port. If a water pipe has more than one hose port, the pull is mostly worse and you cannot get as huge smoke clouds.
A standard shisha is composed of the following main parts:
- Tobacco bowl to put the tobacco in
- Stem the main body of the water pipe
- Vase to put water (or other fluids) in
- Hose, that is connected with the water pipe over the hose port
Besides the main parts of an oriental water pipe, there are also accessories such as the charcoal filter between the charcoal and the tobacco (more common: aluminium foil instead of a charcoal filter), the ash tray to hold the charcoal or ash below the bowl, or additional hose ports to connect more hoses with the shisha.
The principle of the shisha is originated in India where the first waterpipe tobacco was smoked through a coconut with a bamboo stem. Back in the 16th century the Ottomans brought the water pipe to the Islamic world. In todays Iran, the popularity of the shisha grew very fast. This is why smoking water pipes established in many social classes and became a part of the culture. People have been smoking water pipes to relax and to refresh social contacts. By inviting someone for a shisha, you basically did them the compliment because it was a figure of the friendliness and hospitality. Through Turkey, the oriental water pipe was brought to the western world in the 20th century. At the beginning the water pipe was not so popular, but soon the people for example in the United Kingdom, Germany or the USA discovered the shisha as an interesting "fashion article". There are lots of cafés, lounges and restaurants where water pipes are served and many people have their own shisha at home.
While the people in the Oriental countries are mainly smoking unflavoured natural tobacco, there is flavoured tobacco (mainly for the European and American market) with lots of different flavours. There are fruit flavours such as Apple or Cherry, but also more unusual flavours such as Cotton Candy or even Cucumber conquer the shisha industry. The water pipe tobacco (in the USA also called "shisha") is different from normal cigarette tobacco because it is wet and contains. It is also a much milder sort of tobacco.
Shisha smokers are mainly young people in the western world. Sometimes they underestimate the harmfulness of smoking shisha and they often think, that it is not harmful to smoke shisha. This is not true.
The newest premium model from the Shisha Shop Ltd. is the Nargilem NPS Chrome. It is possible to smoke with up to 4 hoses and through the perfect diameter of the stem with up to 16 mm, a perfect smoking experience is guaranteed!