One of the oldest and deep rooted traditions in Turkey is the Nargile (Hookah), with both men and women finding great pleasure in smoking the waterpipe. The nargile started a whole new culture which endured for many, many years. Even today the nargile gives enjoyment to a special breed of smokers. The original hookah came from India, but it was rather primitive as it was made out of coconut shell. Its popularity spread to Iran and then to the rest of the Arab world. But it was in Turkey that the Hookah completed its revolution, and did not change its style for the last few hundred years. The hookah became a very important part of the coffee shop culture, finding its popularity in Turkey around the time of Murad the IV'th, (623-40).
Not all tobaccos qualified for usage in the nargile, and only the dark tobacco imported from Iran found favor with the nargile user. This toabcco was washed several times before use as it was extremely strong. Only oak charcoal was used to be placed on the top of the tobacco.Some professional nargile smokers used certain fruit, like sour cherries or grapes in their govde just to enjoy the motion it created in the water.
Other people enjoyed adding pomegranate juice or rose oil to their water for added flavor.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.
The hookah was so popular and fashionable with the elite ladies of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, that it became the in thing to be photographed with a hookah. If you wanted to be the hostess with the mostest the nargile was a must for popular afternoon tea and intellectual gatherings. Unfortunately like most wonderful things from the past, the hookah suffered a decline with the availability of the cigarettes. But still today, one is able to find a special type of smoker that would only find their enjoyment from smoking the hookah.