Iran Travelogue # 6 – The City of Tehran and Hookahs

Tehran and Hookahs

Tehran and Hookahs

The third night we went to an elaborately tiled and designed Middle Eastern restaurant where almost everyone was smoking a hookah, what you might recognize as a Persian water-pipe.

The hookah is a waterpipe used to smoke tobacco. The different blends of tobacco are generally moist, flavored and sweetened, and placed in the head of the waterpipe. The tobacco is heated by placing charcoal atop the tobacco-filled head, often separated by aluminum foil.

When the smoker inhales, the tobacco smoke passes through the waterpipe body, bubbles through the water in the bowl and is then carried to the smoker a long hose with a mouthpiece at the end.

The Hookah has been used to smoke tobacco for at least four centuries, originating in ancient Persia and India. The exact date of the first use of hookah in Persia is not known.

However, the earliest known literary evidence of the hookah, anywhere, comes in a verse by Persian poet, Ahli Shirazi,  referring to the use of a hookah , thus dating its use at least as early as the time of the Shah Tahmasp I, sometime in the 1500’s.

By the 19th century, women of high society often used hookahs as status symbols; they can be seen with hookahs in the art of the era.


By the way, in every restaurant, the napkins came from a box of Kleenex, or tissues, and were set on the table for us to take as many as we wanted. Another surprise.

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