If you are a fan of smoking herbs or tobacco, you might have wondered who invented the bong, the popular device that filters smoke through water and delivers a smooth and potent hit. The history of the bong is fascinating and spans across continents, cultures and centuries. In this blog post, we will explore the origin and evolution of the bong, from its ancient roots to its modern variations.
The Ancient Bongs
The earliest evidence of bong use dates back to around 2400 years ago, when a group of nomadic warriors known as the Scythians roamed the vast lands of Eurasia. The Scythians were fierce fighters and skilled horsemen, but they also enjoyed smoking cannabis and opium in their leisure time. Archaeologists have discovered two solid gold bongs in a Scythian burial mound in Russia, which were beautifully decorated with scenes of their life and mythology. These bongs were made from gold because it was a symbol of power and wealth, and also because it was resistant to corrosion and heat. The Scythians would place burning coals and herbs in a bowl attached to the bong, and inhale the smoke through a long tube that reached below the water level in the vessel. The water would cool and filter the smoke, making it less harsh on the lungs and throat.
The Scythians were not the only ancient people who used bongs. In fact, bongs have been found in various parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, suggesting that they were independently invented or spread through trade and cultural exchange. For example, some historians believe that the word “bong” comes from the Thai word “baung”, which refers to a bamboo tube or pipe used for smoking. Bongs made from bamboo were common in Thailand, Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia, where cannabis and tobacco were widely consumed. Bongs were also used in India, where they were called “hookahs” or “water pipes”. According to some sources, the hookah was invented by a physician named Hakim Abul Fath in the 16th century, who suggested that tobacco smoke should be passed through water to make it less harmful. Hookahs became popular among the nobility and the commoners alike, and were often used for social gatherings and relaxation.
The Modern Bongs
Bongs remained a popular method of smoking herbs and tobacco until the 20th century, when they were introduced to the Western world by travelers, soldiers and hippies who visited or lived in Asia and Africa. Bongs became associated with the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which advocated for peace, love and freedom. Bongs also appealed to many smokers because they offered a more intense and flavorful experience than joints or pipes.
However, bongs faced some challenges in the West, such as legal restrictions, social stigma and lack of availability. To overcome these obstacles, some ingenious smokers started to make their own bongs from household items such as plastic bottles, cans, jars and hoses. These homemade bongs were cheap, easy and fun to make, but they also had some drawbacks, such as poor quality, durability and safety.
Fortunately, a glass artist named Bob Snodgrass came up with a solution that revolutionized the bong industry. Snodgrass was a traveling craftsman who sold his glass creations at Grateful Dead concerts and other events. He learned how to make glass pipes from a fellow artist named Hugh Glass (no relation to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character), who taught him a technique called “fuming”, which involved coating the glass with silver or gold to create color-changing effects. Snodgrass applied this technique to make glass bongs that were not only beautiful but also functional. He also invented several features that improved the performance of bongs, such as ice pinches, percolators and diffusers.
Snodgrass’s glass bongs soon became popular among smokers who appreciated their quality, durability and aesthetics. Snodgrass also trained many other glass artists who followed his footsteps and created their own styles and designs of bongs. Today, there are thousands of glass bongs available on the market, ranging from simple to elaborate, from affordable to expensive, from classic to futuristic.
The Future of Bongs
Bongs have come a long way since their ancient origins. They have evolved from primitive devices made from natural materials to sophisticated instruments made from glass or other materials. They have also diversified into different types and categories, such as bubblers, gravity bongs, vaporizers and more.
As technology advances and society changes, bongs will continue to adapt and innovate to meet the needs and preferences of smokers. Some of the trends that we might see in the future of bongs are:
- More customization and personalization options, such as colors, shapes, sizes, logos and accessories.
- More integration with digital devices, such as smartphones, apps and sensors.
- More eco-friendly and sustainable materials, such as biodegradable plastics, hemp or bamboo.
- More research and development on the health and safety aspects of bong use, such as filtration, temperature control and hygiene.
Bongs are more than just smoking devices. They are also cultural artifacts, artistic expressions and social symbols. They reflect the history, diversity and creativity of humanity. They connect us with our past, present and future. They are a part of our lives.
So, who invented the bong? The answer is: we all did.