A water pipe is a popular filtration device that people use to inhale steam. Other popular names for a water pipe are shisha, hookah, narghile, Goza, and argileh. However, despite their varying names, their functioning remains essentially the same. But one can still find a structural difference between a hookah and a water pipe because a water pipe is a handheld device.
Whereas hookah, which is used for smoking herbal shisha by mixing it with honey, fruits, and other flavors. It has a bowl and a pipe placed directly on the warm fire. When the shisha mix heats up and lets you smoke, it is inhaled from the pipe for flavor and relaxation. In the case of a water pipe, the whole device is held in hand, and the air paths are shorter, which means that the smoke is slightly warmer than hookah when inhaled.
While water pipes and hookahs are popular worldwide, not many know the fascinating history behind these smoking devices. If you are a curious cat just like us, read on to find out more! And it might take you aback to know that the water pipes and their history go way back than American history, and these pipes have traveled across the length and breadth of the world before globalization and world trade was a thing! So, one could only imagine the passion that different cultures had for bong!
The word baung originates from the Thai word, which means a bamboo container, tube, or pipe. While the popular theory points to the Thai people naming the water pipe as bongs, a few other stories point that it was the Africans who gave it that name. And in Africa, the early users called it Bong’om after their Mount Bong.
Another excavation in Russia in 2013 found remains that prove that water pipes were in use over 2400 years ago in this region. And it was introduced to them by the Ming Dynasty of China in the 16th century. While the commoners used these water pipes mostly, it was a favorite of the Empress Dowager Cixi. There are remains of her collection available in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Her fascination for water pipes was so strong that evidence suggests that she was buried with at least three of them.
The Glass Chamber
American Scientific Glassblowers Society published a report on how the Egyptians used glass tiles, figures, and beads as early as 1500 BC. And it was in 323–30 BC that the use of glass gained popularity. As glass has been in existence for this long, it is no wonder that our ancestors wanted to try using it as a smoking device. The large capacity of water pipes to store smoke in the chamber makes it an alluring option over smoking with a pipe or a rolling paper. However, if you were to add too much water to the water pipe, it can splash and drench your mouth while inhaling the substance.
The African Connection
Water pipes are considered to be a descendent of the hookah. And as mentioned earlier, they were handheld, a more convenient option. However, these smoking devices are not a new invention. However, unlike the popular belief that they originated in the Middle East, research evidence proves otherwise.
Yes, the archeological findings from across the world point in a different direction from the Middle East. A cave excavation in Africa found 11 pipes that belong to the eras between 1100 and 1400 CE, which indicates that these devices were existent in Africa around the same time as they were in use in Asia.
Mary Leakey, an archeologist, in 1945 found a few remains in Tanzania that resembled a water pipe. It had a bowl on the top which was connected with a pipe to a water chamber at the bottom and had a mouthpiece too. All these resemble the present-day water pipes, so one could say that the Africans were using water pipes way before the rest of the world found it fascinating.
Well, to most of us who enjoy a good time with a water pipe by our side, these historic facts are new and amusing. And it makes us wonder how even the most mundane things in our life have a fascinating story behind them? Did you know any of these exciting facts about the water pipes? Do let us know about them in the comments section! And do not forget to share any interesting pieces of history on the water pipe that you know, and we possibly missed!