The body, or govde, of a hookah pipe consists of a curved vessel which holds water. A graceful stem rises from the body and at the top of the stem is a bowl, or lle, which holds the tobacco. From one to several flexible hoses, the marpuc, with a mouthpiece, or agizlik, at the end, are used to draw the hookah smoke down through the water. The hookah tobacco is heated by charcoal and the water filters and cools the smoke. The water gurgles gently, like a woodland stream, and, in the process, makes the smoke smooth and cool.
The word shisha, which is often another word for hookah, comes from the Persian meaning glass or bottle. Hookahs and the culture of hookah smoking is often referred to as hookah shisha. Somewhat confusingly, at first, people also refer to hookah tobacco as shisha, or hookah shisha–and there is a Shisha brand of hookah shisha!
Hookah pipes today come in many styles, from Egyptian to Syrian, traveling, mini and mod models to specialty and custom designs. There is a world of history in the craftsmanship of hookah pipes. Traditional materials used in making hookahs were blown glass, often highly decorated in gold or enamel painting, brass, aluminum, silver, porcelain, clay, carved stone and wood, and leather. All these same materials are used today, with the addition of stainless steel, Pyrex glass, plastic, rubber, and high quality acrylics, among others.
In restaurants and smoking lounges, individually wrapped, disposable plastic mouthpieces are provided for each smoker. Other accoutrements of the hookah pipe and tobacco include the hookah charcoal and metal tongs. The charcoal is typically in coin-sized pieces and each lasts for about 30 minutes in the slow smoking tobacco mixture.
Certain etiquette applies to the smoking of hookah pipes: the water pipes are meant to be on the ground, rather than on a high table or shelf, with the smokers seated on cushions or low seats around it–though in modern hookah lounges, they often appear on tables. Shared hookah pipes are not supposed to be passed, but rather set down after smoking so that the next smoker can take up the pipe at their leisure.
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