Who first discovered tobacco

Columbus didn't just discover America

Many have claimed the discovery, and it is virtually impossible to tell true from false nearly four centuries later. One thing is certain, however: the history of tobacco begins with the discovery of America. And their heroes are the Spanish conquerors, especially the most famous of them, Christopher Columbus.

When Columbus landed on October 12, 1492 on an island that was called Guanahani by its inhabitants and which he renamed San Salvador, he had no idea that he had just discovered the New World, nor that he was about to discover tobacco . He spent too few days there to penetrate inland or observe the customs of the natives. However, he learned of the existence of another, larger island. Columbus decided to sail on it and entered it on October 17th, 1492. He named it Juana. It was later called Ferdinanda and finally Cuba.

This date opens the age of tobacco and cigars in Europe. In his logbook, Columbus reports that two of his companions while exploring the island encountered a large number of Indians, women and men, who "wander around with a small smoldering stick made from a herb, the smoke of which they inhale, as is their custom." One of the companions, Luis de Torrès, explored the eastern part of the island. He lived with the natives and made a similarly instructive observation that opened the tobacco and cigar era in Europe.

"They carry a smoldering piece of coal and herbs in their hands and breathe in the scents with the help of catapults, which they call tabacos in their language." Tabaco - was that the ancestor of the cigar? After this description, it is difficult to say whether the pole or the catapult - possibly some kind of case, a palm leaf or a plant that contained the tobacco - was called tobacco. But a lieutenant from Columbus made another important piece of information: the natives called their herb cohiba. Today the Cohiba is one of the most famous Cuban cigars.

In his 1535 natural history work on the West Indies, Fernandez de Oviedo for his part confirms the statements of Luis de Torrès: The Indians used a pipe shaped like a Y, put both ends of the fork into their nostrils and the other end into the infected herb great seafarers, every expedition leader claimed the first discovery of tobacco for himself. Columbus and his people were no exception. However, in the course of his four journeys from 1492 to 1504, Columbus explored areas where tobacco actually existed: San Salvador, Cuba, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras, but that makes him the real one Explorer? This is by no means certain, because certain historians attribute the discovery to the monk Ramon Pane, who accompanied Columbus on his second trip to the West Indies and who is said to have observed natives of Haiti smoking.

Immediately after Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine navigator after whom America was named, made four voyages to the new continent in the service of Spain and Portugal and claimed to have discovered tobacco. The Portuguese Fernao de Magalhaes (Magellan), who set out on a circumnavigation of the world in 1519 from which he was never to return, is also considered a possible explorer. And there are a few things that speak for him: after opening up the western sea route to India, he took tobacco on his first trip around the world and brought some plants to the Philippines, where they grew and flourished. Another Portuguese, Altares Betrau Cabral , is also at the forefront of tobacco discoverers, as he set foot in Brazil in 1500, where men and women of all ages smoked pipes, cigarettes and cigars, the tobacco being rolled up in sheets of various sizes

In Central and South America - where tobacco comes from, all tribes have smoked for centuries. Studies emphasize the initially religious, then also healing importance of tobacco in the Mayan, Inca and Aztec cultures. As noted in the Encyclopedia du tabac et du fumeur (Encyclopedia of Tobacco and Smokers), contrary to a persistent rumor, the word cigar did not originate in the Spanish word cigale (cigaral), which alludes to the shape of an insect, but in the language of the ancient Maya. »The Popol Vuh, the chronicle of the Quichése tribe, calls the cigar Jiq or Ciq, the Spanish cigarro is derived from the Ciq-Sigan of the Maya. However, this form did not gain acceptance until much later: In Labat's writings around 1700 one finds cigales, in the New English Dictionary of 1735 seegar, and finally in various sources cigare, cigarro and other forms; There was still disagreement in the 19th century, after all, in the 1833 edition of Brockhaus' encyclopedia, the forms cigale, segares, cigars were given.

In these cultures smoking was initially reserved for priests. The smoke was seen as the way to communicate with the gods. Later on, the tribal chiefs also began to smoke on special occasions, such as when signing peace treaties. In some countries, for example in Mexico, the dignitaries, such as the priests and the medicine men, wore a bag of tobacco in their belt as a sign of their importance ... Richer medicine men always had servants in their entourage, whose only job was to shut the smoke pipe care for. When the common people began to smoke too, they found that hunger was reduced and physical resistance increased. The myth of the sacred properties of tobacco was born. Back then, tobacco was never smoked pure, but mixed with herbs, some of which undoubtedly had healing properties and some even caused hallucinations. Historians now agree that tobacco originally only came from America. You do not therefore deny that the Chinese - perhaps - invented the pipe, that the Asians smoked long before Christianity. But only herbs, no tobacco. This plant grew nowhere else but in America before it was discovered. Tobacco has this in common with tomatoes and potatoes, which are also nightshades.