The narghile, or, hookahPrinter friendly page
Disraeli and Gladstone

Disraeli smoking a narghile in Tenniel's political cartoon

An eastern pipe, consisting of one or more flexible stems connected to a container of water or other liquid through which smoke is drawn and cooled, from the Persian nargileh, by way of the French narguil, also known as the hookah.

Thackeray, in his Notes of a journey from Cornhill to Cairo, clearly enjoyed his après-bath more than his bath.

When the [Turkish bath] is concluded, you are led—with what heartfelt joy I need not say—softly back to the cooling-room, having been robed in shawls and turbans as before. You are laid gently on the reposing bed; somebody brings a narghile, which tastes as tobacco must taste in Mahomet's Paradise; a cool sweet dreamy languor takes possession of the purified frame; and half-an-hour of such delicious laziness is spent over the pipe as is unknown in Europe, where vulgar prejudice has most shamefully maligned indolence—calls it foul names, such as the father of all evil, and the like; in fact, does not know how to educate idleness as those honest Turks do, and the fruit which, when properly cultivated, it bears. The after-bath state is the most delightful condition of laziness I ever knew, and I tried it wherever we went afterwards on our little tour.

The narghile is sometimes confused with the chibouk.


This page last updated 20 January 2018

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