In Friday’s post, we mentioned how the comedy duo Cheech and Chong helped define the television trope of two hapless stoners getting into misadventures. While it’s true, the iconic pair set the stage for such films as Harold and Kumar go to White Castle or Pineapple Express, the story of two buddies getting up to trouble while united in their love for cannabis is a tale as old as time.
In fact, we can trace this recurring motif all the way back to the Islamic Golden Age (800 BCE - 1300 BCE).
One Thousand And One Nights
One of the most important collections of early human literary culture that we have is One Thousand And One Nights—a compilation of Middle Eastern folktales from as far back as the eighth century. The stories are mostly written in prose, though many of the tales also incorporate poetry and verse. Depending on the version and translation, the title may be styled Arabian Nights.
In the west, we often associate this historical text with two stories in particular—”Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves” and “Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp.” Interestingly, though, these two stories were not included in the original Arabic versions. What we do find in the original Arabic versions, however, is perhaps the earliest example of the stoner duo trope in “The Tale of Two Hashish Eaters.”
The Tale Of Two Hashish Eaters
The story begins by following a cannabis-loving fisherman, who dutifully consumes hashish three times a day. After getting into a misunderstanding with the local guards, the fisherman is taken before a Kadi—a regional judge of the era.
Fortunately for the fisherman, the Kadi happens to be a hashish enthusiast as well, and the two proceed to “swallow enough hashish to destroy a hundred-year-old elephant.” While intoxicated on the massive amount of hashish, the pair strips off their clothes and begins dancing naked around the Kadi’s house, only to be approached by the Sultan who is wearing a disguise.
After some jokes at the expense of the Kadi’s members and some threats of public urination, the Sultan leaves the pair to their business but calls them to his throne the next day. Luckily for the Kadi, the Fisherman agrees to entertain the Sultan with stories so long as he Pardons his new friend and lets him resume his duties.
How Hashish Was Prepared During The Islamic Golden Age
Hashish, also shortened to hash, is one of the earliest forms of cannabis concentrates out there. These dark-colored sticky bricks are made by applying heat and pressure to the frosty cannabinoid-rich trichomes that pepper the outside of cannabis buds.
Traditionally, hashish was made by hand. A hash maker would take the cannabis buds between their palms until dark resinous balls called charas formed their hands.
Hash consumption was incredibly popular in the Middle East during the time of the “Tale of Two Hashish Eaters,” but smoking the intoxicating plant hadn’t yet caught on. Hashish eaters would combine the intoxicant with fragrant spices like cardamom, nutmeg, and honey before chowing down. This way of enjoying hash continued all the way into 19th century Paris at the Club Des Hashischins.
How Hash Is Prepared Today
Hash is still around today, though it’s more popular in Europe and Asia than it is in America. Today, the bulk of hash is made with machines that separate the kief from the rest of the buds before applying the necessary heat and pressure to form a hash brick. Some hash machines utilize ice water to separate the trichomes, others use mechanical tumblers, and some newer machines even use static electricity.
Unlike during the Islamic Golden Age, most modern hash users prefer to smoke the concentrate rather than eat it. It’s most often mixed with tobacco, rolled into a spliff, or placed into a hookah.
Check your local dispensary to see what kind of hash options are available in your area—just be on the lookout for any sultans in disguise!