Narghile around the world
Narghiles of the royal court were famous. P. Sabbagh reported that the
the Shah's personal narghile was, in 1900 , estimated at two million
francs-gold... Jean Chardin, a famous French traveller who went through
Persia between years 1673 and 1677, brought back a magnificent
description of narghile (locally named "qalyân") ending on a picturesque
"These bottles are usually full of flowers for the entire satisfaction
of eyes. At least once in the daytime, water is changed after it is
quite corrupted and stinking because of the tobacco spirits. I tried a
cup of this water and I felt that it is a quick remedy to vomit up my
intestines" (from French).
current modern Iran, the narghile life-style continues. For instance, in
Darban, a small town in the South of Teheran, women, alone, accompanied
with their husband or mother, find the road of traditional tea-houses,
in an "atmosphere of holiday resort, delicious: sat down on a carpet,
people come there at least once a week to sip its tea, to nibble at
dates and smoke a ghalian - a narghile, and speak freely" (from French -
This country has known a historic use of hookah. Narghile was, in
very common during dinners, at officers' tables, and its typical
gurgling could be heard till late in the night. Old Indians even kept
this custom when travelling abroad. A Scottish lady is also reported to
have gone on smoking narghile for several years after her return to her
home land (Yule &Burnell). Let us mention here a characteristic of the
British Crown aristocracy so aficionada of narghile: that of the
"hooka-burdar" (from the Persian "hukka-bardâr", i.e. a hooka-bearer), a
servant in charge of the full-time maintenance of his boss' narghile,
also to be found in Persia' shahs or contemporary Yemen.
Today, after twenty years of wars ravaging this country, narghile
symbolically refers, in the mind of some, to a good peaceful past:
"Farther, on what was Jod-e-Maiwan, a thoroughfare where shops were
falling into line and where, sat down on carpets, talkative peaceful
Kaboulis formerly used to drink tea and smoke narghile, fights sometimes
break out from a house to the other through shell-holes..." (From French
- Le Monde).
smoke narghile through a reed, never through a flexible hose, coiling up
like a snake, massively used in many others countries. Nowadays, water
is not flavoured any more, as H.W Bellew already reported in 1863. For
its combustion, a charcoal named mangal or buhari is used. However,
dried horse-dung may sometimes replace the latter, as also observed in
nearby India. "Chillam", as is called the Afghan narghile, is generally
smoked at home or inside tea-houses. Tobacco is scarcely inhaled "dry",
that is without water in the vase. Hashish (chars) is also consumed.
Young people seem to lose more and more interest in the chillam,
preferring cigarettes to it; an evolution which one can observe almost
everywhere in the world (C.-J. Charpentier).
narghile has a very peculiar shape: it looks like a big and generally
decorated lighter. Its little bowl is designed to embed tiny balls of
tobacco smoked in two or three drafts. Carlos Armero wrote that Chinese
accepted narghile because it was perfectly adapted to the consumption of
a mixture of opium and tobacco while transforming it into a less
sophisticated and more portable device. However, one also finds:
- The "Bang"
pipe, made out of a big bamboo containing water, in which the bowl comes
to fit obliquely in it. It is made of bamboo, engraved or inlaid with
mother-of-pearl wood. This model particularly draw the attention of
cannabis consumers, particularly American, who adapt it every day and
endeavour to improve it in order to reduce the risks for their health.
In their own vocabulary, it became the "bong".
- The pot-like pipe, in which the main element is the water vessel. It
is made of bamboo or wood decorated with silver or mother-of-pearl.
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