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Old December 4th, 2008, 04:06 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Buffalo Grove, IL
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Default Re: What does it all mean!? Hookah, Shisha, Maassel, Tobamel, Narghile?

We asked Hajo to write an article for us regarding the tradition and history of hookah. Here is the link:

Its not exactly on topic, but its some history behind hookah traditions. Just thought some people might be interested.

Here is the content:
Narghiles and Tradition 10/29/2007

Written By:
Hajo Flettner of Madrid, NM
Hookah Connoisseur

Narghiles and Tradition

A topic that frequently arises among narghile1 users in Western societies is how tradition affects our love of mu'essel2 and narghiles. In particular we have seen frequent references in the mass media and from those not familiar with our hobby interpreting it as nothing more then a pseudo-hippy fetish for oriental exotica.

Certainly it is true that modern Western societies are so radically different from the cultural environment that narghile use originated in, that the mere use of a narghile does not show an affinity for, let alone an understanding of, the traditionalism that grew up around it. Although I have spent a great deal of time in Arabic nations I will readily admit that I am like most Occidental narghile smokers in that I am largely ignorant of Arabic traditions and my love of narghiles has not spurred me on to seek a deep appreciation of other cultures. Still, it seems to me a mistake to view Western narghile use as a sign of either an infatuation with another culture or a rejection of Occidental civilization.

Rather, narghile use is first and foremost a means to delight one’s senses. The feel of a rich, full smoke lingering on the tongue. The feel, taste and smell of a high quality Tobamel, mu'essel, tumbāk3 or jurāk4 are experiences that drastically improve the quality of life. Aesthetics extend to the narghile itself as one comes not to just appreciate a lovely looking rig but the artistry of hand blown glass, spun metal and recognition of the skill and thought that goes into making every component needed to provide a superior smoking session.

To delight in craftsmanship that created a fine narghile or a traditional jurāk paste or way these things simulate the senses should not be viewed as a mindless trend to embrace the exotic, a rejection of the Occident nor a mere fad. Rather, it should be seen as embracing a life enriching hobby that thrills the senses and a love of fine craftsmanship.

1. Narghile – A single or multi-stemmed (often glass-based) water pipe device for smoking; originating in some part of the Middle East that has gained popularity, especially in the Arab World. A hookah (commonly misspelled as: hooka or huka) operates by water-filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking many substances, such as herbal fruits and tobacco. Depending on locality, hookahs may be referred to by many other names (often of Arab, Indian, Turkish, Uzbek, or Persian origin). Arghile or Narghile is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Albania, Greece, Israel, Bulgaria and Romania, though the initial "n" is often dropped in Arabic.
2. Mu’essel - (as there are many ways of transliterating Arabic, the transliterated spelling of the word may vary), Arabic for, literally, honeyed, and is the name the "shisha tobacco" is labeled as by the arabic producers.
3. Tumbāk - is word of Turkish origin and refers simply to tobacco, not necessarily flavored or sweetened. The Persian word tumbeki and the Hindi/Urdu word Tumbako are similar.
4. Jurāk - mainly of Indian origin, might be considered as an intermediate substance between traditional sweetened tobaccos and the fruity hookah of modern times. The term applies both to a tobacco mixture that includes fruits or aromatic oils as well as tobacco that is just sweetened.

Definitions courtesy of

Last edited by hookahlife; December 4th, 2008 at 04:09 PM.
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