The water pipe is the right smoking instrument for warmer areas. The smoke being drawn through the water cools down, which makes it more tasteful. Most of the water pipes are imposing instruments, standing on a fixed place to let the smoker sits down in the near and enjoy the smoke. The water container can have a pear shape, very popular from the beginning, but also a lower bottle shape, which is more stable. Next to these, smaller transportable versions are easy to carry.
The oldest illustration of a water pipe appeared in the famous book by Neander and dates from 1626. The print shows and explains the system on which the pipe is based. Quite common are the Persian miniatures illustrating a water pipe smoker in the characteristic sitting position.
Depending on the living conditions of the user the water pipe has three small feet or a flat base. The first in use for the clay floor, while the second is more for well-furnished houses. The poorest people smoke the water pipe from their hands, using a short stem.
Several illustrations from North Africa show women smoking a water pipe. Often it is doubtful whether these photographs have not been arranged for touristic purpose.
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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