pipe smoking. The habit of smoking various substances probably arose independently in different parts of the world. Herodotus in the 5th cent. B.C. describes the Scythians as inhaling the fumes of burning leaves until they were intoxicated. The leaves may have been marijuana, which was smoked in Africa and Asia long before the diffusion of tobacco from America in the 16th cent. Among the Native Americans, pipe smoking was practiced long before the arrival of Europeans. The peace pipe, or calumet, was smoked in ceremonies to signify a covenant between tribes. The use of tobacco and pipes spread around the world rapidly. In Asia, opium, which up to that time had only been eaten, was first smoked in the 17th cent. The hookah of Persia and the narghile of India, both of which filter smoke through water, may have evolved independently from the marijuana-smoking practices among aboriginal groups of S Africa and of central Asia. Everywhere, pipes have acquired particular national characteristics and have blossomed into many shapes, fashioned from many materials, including brier, stone, clay, wood, porcelain, meerschaum, and corncobs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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