NARGİLE

 

 

Bringing pleasure and flavour together

Compiled by Sabiha İslam   During the Ottoman Empire, when time passed slowly, smoking a "nargile" or    water-pipe was one of the ways of whiling away the time among the elite living in big cities such as İstanbul, İzmir, Bursa and Kutahya. A water-pipe is a Middle Eastern type of pipe to smoke tobacco. It consists of a long flexible stem and a jar of water through which the smoke is sucked in order to cool it. It was devised out of coconut skin for the first time in India. Later on, smoking a water-pipe attracted Egyptians and became a habit of Middle Eastern people.    
   When the water-pipe was brought to Anatolia in the 17th century, Turkish craftsmen found a new way through which they could display their skills. They engraved beautiful designs such as white or colourful flasks which appear as if they were made out of crystallized ice, or more usual designs like fruit or flowers.   Since it was one of the main pastimes of the male population in the society, the preparation of the water-pipe especially for the eldest male in a family was ceremonious which was deliberately prolonged.   Water-pipes, made in Beykoz and İznik workshops were smokers' favourites because of their decorative appearance. There was a special corner where the water-pipe was placed in order to ornament the old fashion Turkish houses.

A water-pipe consists of various parts: The body, bowl, tube and mouthpiece:   

Body: This is the part where the bowl is placed.It looks like a decanter. It is filled with water to cleanse soot belched out by burning tobacco and also to absorb the nicotine.Though the body is usually made of glass or steel, you could find more elegant ones made out of porcelain on which gold,silver or coral were also used to embellish its appearance.  

Bowl: Tobacco is put in the bowl which is pierced and covered with a conical cap in order that the flame be sheltered on windy days.  

Tube: Air in the body part, is conveyed by means of this tube which is usually made out of amber. There may be more than one tube so that two or more people can smoke together while chatting.  

Mouthpiece:At the end kept at the end of the tube to lighten smoke.  

Today, Turkish people no longer have the time to sit and smoke a water-pipe as their grandfathers did years ago.   

However on occasion one sees old men smoking water-pipes in some of old coffee houses in İstanbul, İzmir and Bursa. Tourists, who visit Turkey, are attracted to the water-pipes and often buy them as souvenirs to take home to their family and friends. Water-pipes also interest the young people in Turkey who are in search of their history and traditions. Despite the decreasing number of consumers of water-pipes, there are still some workshops operating where craftsmen make the traditional nargile.

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