Shisha Pipes: a short history of a long tradition
Shisha pipes have been used for centuries, originating from either the Middle East or India in the 16th century. To make sure you know all the important facts about the long history of shisha smoking, read our short and helpful guide to its fascinating history.
Shisha is technically the name of the tobacco whilst the pipes are known as water pipes, hookahs or indeed, shisha pipes. There are two main theories as to their origins. Some say the first waterpipes were invented in India during Mughal rule (approx 500 years ago). Evidence for this includes the use of the word Huqqa (Hookah) which is a Hindustani word. Other theorists claim it came from Persia, specifically during Safavid rule, also around 500 years ago, and from there it was taken east to India before spreading elsewhere. Countries where shisha smoking became notably important include Egypt and the Levant. Evidence for Persian origin comes from the use of the Persian word shisha, which means glass bowl.
Falling within the Indian theory is the idea that is was invented for medical reasons by an Indian doctor called Irfan Shaikh in the late 16th century. However, a Persian poet Ahlī Shirazi wrote a poem in the early 16th century referring to the ḡalyān in a poem. This earlier model of a water pipe could have travelled to India where it was modified into something more like we see today.
Whether it reached India from Persia or the other way round, we may never know for certain. What we do know is that these pipes didn’t come about until at least the 1500s and that tobacco, not reaching Persia until the 1600s, wasn’t what was originally smoked in them.
Water pipes in one form or another are used all over the world today to enjoy a variety of flavoured tobaccos. They are foremost used in the Levant where they play a significant role in the social culture of the area, with many young users keeping up the tradition. Thanks to the multicultural and diverse planet we now live on, it’s common to see shisha pipes enjoyed all over the world, especially in cosmopolitan London where youngsters are seeing them as a healthier alternative to binge drinking or cigarette smoking.
Shop for Shisha Shookah Pipes along with other Shisha products in the UK
You can browse for different shisha products on our easy-to-use website. This includes components such as shisha pipes, hoses, flavours and handy accessories like mouth tips.
The Shisha Shop, 11-13 Fairways Business Park, Lammas Road, E10 7QB London, United Kingdom
TEL: +44 20 8133 3263