Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Education of Goodtime Charlie

For those of you concerned about the accuracy of your Old World period-pieces:
1492----Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, in Cuba searching for the Khan of Cathay (China), are credited with first observing smoking. They reported that the natives wrapped dried tobacco leaves in palm or maize "in the manner of a musket formed of paper." After lighting one end, they commenced "drinking" the smoke through the other. Jerez became a confirmed smoker, and is thought to be the first outside of the Americas. He brought the habit back to his hometown, but the smoke billowing from his mouth and nose so frightened his neighbors he was imprisoned by the holy inquisitors for 7 years. By the time he was released, smoking was a Spanish craze. (source: The Tobacco Timeline)
So please don't show any medieval knights smoking cheroots, Roman soldiers huffing opium, etc.

Incidentally, not only was the tobacco plant only native to the Americas, but so was the idea of smoking.

Although opium was a huge trade in the ancient Western world, its devotees chewed it or drank the juice of the poppy seed, rather than smoking it.

Marijuana was also harvested and either chewed or used for clothing/rope. Only one group of people, the Scythians--known for their gratuitous use of scythes and penchant for steam baths--actually burned marijuana and inhaled it.

Nobody thought of smoking opium--a far more addictive manner of ingestion--or marijuana until Spanish sailors brought a New World pipe to China.

Huh. Thanks, Internet!


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