The Hookah was first created to elevate peoples' states of mind. Although born in India, this device spread to the countries of the Near East, Far East, the Arab world, Persia, East Africa, and all the way to the Ottoman Empire.
The Hooka's Indian Roots
The hookah is also known today as the water pipe, the Shisha or the hubbly-bubbly. It was originally used in India to extract the medicinal value contained in plant seeds.
The Hookah Today
Hookahs are still used today, but are seen as the more pleasurable form of smoking only employed as a pass time in coffee houses across the region.
The Hookah in Different Forms
The hooka in its original and simplest of forms was made from a coconut shell base, also known as the narci. This coconut shell was hollowed, and a straw was placed inside it for the purposes of inhaling substances placed in the shell's core. After some years the device reached Egypt, and it was in Egypt that the Egyptians changed its form further by replacing the coconut shell with a gourd.
Upon reaching the Persian peninsula, the Persians developed the hookah even further, bringing it closer to its modern form. They substituted the straw originally used by the Indians, with a soft and more flexible hose, making the hookah more practical and easier to handle.
These changes came in time with the region's first introduction to Tobacco. Seeing the newly discovered substance in a whole new light due to the more relaxing effects it provides, the Persians experimented with the possibility of inhaling it using the Hookah. With this idea in mind, it was soon discovered that the hookah device needed to evolve from its original form so as to satisfy this purpose. A bronze tray, known at the time as "Ser" was placed above the hookah's body to hold the tobacco. The type of Tobacco popular amongst the Persians at the time was known as tambeki. In Syria and Yemen, the Hookah was developed even further so that it took on the form of a long wooden head, an iron stand and a hose sewn from thick cloth.
The first Hookah bar in the Ottoman region was opened in 1554 by a gentleman named Hakem from Aleppo and his partner, a nobleman by the name of Hems from Damascus. This first bar laid the foundations for many others to follow. Hookah bars at the time were places where people of high social standing met.
During the 17th century, the Ottomans changed the hookah into a more practical smoking device. Above the "head" they placed a bowl of baked clay and they also added to it a mouthpiece that connected the hose to the smoker's mouth. The Hooka at the time had a body of glass, crystal, rock-crystal, porcelain and even silver, a head of brass and silver, and a pipe holder decorated with carvings depicting scenes from nature.
Because the ever so popular Hookah had a base made of glass, it was only natural for the glass making industry to also flourish in popularity. It was in the 19th Century and during the reign of Selim III that a man by the name of Mehmet Dede set up a workshop in Beykoz, a place where the famous Beykoz glassware was made. After setting up a series of workshops in that area, a glass factory was soon established in 1899. The local factory however was unable to compete with the glassware imported from Europe at the time and it soon closed down. The first glass factory in the modern sense was established upon the orders of Atatrk in 1934 during the Republic period, and it was then that the prettiest hookahs in history were made.
Al Fakher is a hookah smoker's premium tobacco. The flavor, if prepared right, is typically as rich as the thick clouds of smoke that you pull. If you are at a hookah bar, and they are charging a slight premium over the typical stuff, Al Fakher hookah tobacco is definitely worth a try.
There are more flavors of Al Fackher: Al Fakher Apple Flavour Hookah Tobacco,
Al Fakher Grape Flavour Hookah Tobacco, Al Fakher Mint Flavour Hookah Tobacco