What is a Medwakh pipe?
Medwakh, sometimes spelled ‘Midwakh’, is a pipe used to smoke a type of Arabian tobacco called ‘Dokha’. This strong tobacco is smoked through pipes with a characteristically small bowl – enough for two or three drags at a time, more than enough to give you the buzz that Dokha is famous for. In fact, the word Dokha literally translates into English as ‘dizzy’. For hundreds of years, the Medwakh pipe has been used to smoke Dokha, a sifted tobacco product that originates from Iran.
Medwakh and Dokha are popular in many countries around the Persian Gulf and across the Middle East where it’s grown and dried in arid desert conditions. Classic Medwakh pipe design is heavily influenced by the culture and history of the region, evident in the materials used, colours and patterns.
What makes it a Medwakh?
Although there are no rules around what makes a tobacco pipe a Medwakh, the style of a Medwakh is very distinctive. Most notably, the Medwakh Pipe bowl tends to be much smaller than western tobacco pipes as the Dokha itself is more concentrated and therefore less is needed to be smoked. They’re traditionally around 6 inches long but can come in a whole range of shapes and sizes.
Medwakh pipes are often handmade, allowing for creativity and style in the manufacturing process – dimensions and design vary to create truly unique styles for the discerning smoker. They’re crafted from a variety of materials including wood, bone, metals including gold and silver, stone, plastics and glass. They may incorporate precious items such as diamonds, gemstones and rings of precious metal inscribed with symbols, such as a falcon similar to the UAE coat of arms. Pipes have even been crafted to resemble the dromedary camel, a highly revered animal in the UAE; the opening of the bowl shaped as the camel’s mouth.
Anatomy of a Medwakh Pipe
Starting from the top, Medwakh pipes usually have an enlarged heel past the bowl to hold them steady while lighting. This is attached to a small bowl, sized for a single hit, which is linked to the shaft – usually 5 to 7 inches (12 to 17cm). Connected to the shaft is the stem, or mouthpiece, which usually houses a filter.
The heel allows you to easily grip the pipe without burning yourself and offers a stylish flare to your Medwakh.
Changes in bowl size can affect how big each hit is and therefore how much dokha you smoke in a week. It can affect how easily you can fill the bowl. Bowl size and shape also have an effect on the smoking experience as a whole. Larger bowls tend to make the smoke more aromatic as it doesn’t all burn immediately. While smaller bowls will smoke faster and usually hotter. It’s all down to personal preference!
Shaft length will alter the heat of smoke dragged through from the bowl to the mouthpiece. A longer shaft will cool the smoke more but will also provide more resistance, taking more effort to gain the same hit. This is also where the diameter of the air passage comes into play. Along with the filter, the air passage diameter plays a massive role in determining the volume of smoke you inhale. The wider diameter equals more smoke.
Filters vary in composition, but they are all designed to reduce some of the particulates present in dokha smoke along with tar content (for the efficacy of each filter please see the manufactures websites). They do also influence air flow, helping to smooth out each drag into a steady, continuous stream.
With Medwakh pipes, filter tips are very common – this is a filter housed within a mouthpiece that fits on the end of your pipe. Picking the right tip for you just depends on the filter you like, which mouthpiece is most comfortable and, of course, which suits you and the pipe the most. After all, you’ve got to look good when you smoke don’t you?
There are also other designs incorporate an internal filter, much like the ones seen on traditional tobacco pipes. These seen on the higher end pipes but work in much the same way as a standard filter tip.
What are Medwakh pipes made of?
The first Medwakhs were crudely carved from animal bones, often goats’ bones, or moulded from clay. Since then, a lot has changed but the basic design still shines through. Pipes are often still hand carved but much more lavishly engraved, often with brass inlays and even dyed in a variety of colours.
The range of materials used has increased greatly with pipes being made from bone, wood, glass, steel, silver, gold, plastics and stone. Wooden pipes are by far the most common due to low cost and versatility of design. A certain elegance can be achieved through good craftsmanship and quality wood which is very desirable. Hardwoods like Walnut, Cherry and Briar are well known to make for beautiful pipes that stand the test of time.
Metal pipes are increasing in popularity simply due to their durability. Steel pipes don’t just snap in your pocket like a wooden or bone pipe might – they last a lifetime.
Novel designers are always bringing out new models in different materials and we keep on top of the market to bring you the finest designs from around the world!