Shisha: A Cultural Legacy


"Cigarettes are for nervous people, competitive people, people on the run [...] When you smoke a narghile, you have time to think. It teaches you patience and tolerance, and gives you an appreciation of good company. Narghile smokers have a much more balanced approach to life than cigarette smokers." (Ismet Ertep, 71 years Turkey)

We carry the spirit and blood of our ancestors. It is not solely about genetics. It is above and beyond that. We borrow and consolidate a culture. Shisha is not a simple device available in all cafes; it is in fact a cultural heritage that our beloved ancestors perfected its apparatus.

Dearest Egyptians, the habit of enjoying some puffs of Shisha during gaps is not solely for social pleasure, it is rooted in deep historical grounds. Never underestimate the power of Egyptians to produce strikingly complex traditions.

Historical Insight: It all started in the Persian Empire, when it was called Nargile, a Persian word for a coconut. In other words, the oldest shisha was chopped from coconut shells. Others tie its origins to India. Whether in Persia or India, it was primitive. Egyptians took it to a whole new level. They burnished its mechanism! An Egyptian engineer started a whole new culture that endured for several years. A very laid-back engineer completed its revolution. During the Ottoman Empire, coffee and tobacco where important crops yet they were not well pitched.

Economic Insight: This is why Murat IV asked an Egyptian engineer (part of his empire) to couple coffee and tobacco. It is in this spirit that the shisha apparatus was completed the way we see it today. He introduced the coffee shop culture where both Turkish coffee and Shisha were served. Coffee and Tobacco were going hand in hand and consumed together.

Social Insight: This culture went above and beyond being a simple smoking device. It gained a social feature by metamorphosing into a popular and fashionable trend. In the 19th century, elite ladies used it as a social show-off. To be the “hostess with the mostess”, the Shisha was a must in gatherings.

Hail Egyptian Engineer. Treasured in our heart you will stay.

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