Who Invented the Bong?

A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking herbs or tobacco. It consists of a bowl and a stem that guides the smoke through water before it reaches the mouthpiece. Bongs are popular among smokers who want to enjoy a smoother and cooler experience than other methods of inhalation. But who invented the bong and how did it become so widespread?

The history of the bong is not very clear, as different cultures and regions have used similar devices for centuries. However, some archaeological evidence and historical records can shed some light on the origin and evolution of this fascinating smoking tool.

The Ancient Bongs

The oldest known bongs were discovered in 2013 by Russian archaeologists who were excavating a Scythian burial mound in the Caucasus Mountains. The Scythians were a nomadic people who ruled vast areas of Eastern Europe and Asia from the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD. They were known for their fierce warriors, rich art, and use of herbs and opium for ritual and recreational purposes.

The bongs that were found in the burial mound date back to around 400 BC and were made of solid gold. They were also decorated with intricate scenes of Scythian life, such as hunting, fighting, and feasting. The archaeologists believe that these bongs were used by the Scythian tribal chiefs to smoke a mixture of herbs and opium during ceremonial occasions.

These gold bongs are not only the oldest but also the most luxurious examples of water pipes ever found. They show that the Scythians had a sophisticated knowledge of metallurgy and craftsmanship, as well as a high appreciation for smoking.

The Asian Bongs

Another possible origin of the bong is Asia, where bamboo pipes have been used for smoking for millennia. The word “bong” itself is derived from the Thai word “baung”, which refers to a cylindrical bamboo tube or container. Bamboo bongs are still widely used in rural areas of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

Bamboo bongs are simple but effective devices that can be easily made from natural materials. They consist of a hollow bamboo stem with a bowl attached to one end and a hole on the other end. The hole can be covered with a finger or a piece of cloth to control the airflow. The smoke is filtered through water that is stored in the bamboo stem or in a separate container.

Bamboo bongs are believed to have been introduced to China during the late Ming Dynasty (16th century) along with tobacco, which was brought from the Americas by European traders. Tobacco became very popular among the Chinese elite, who preferred to smoke it through water pipes rather than snuff bottles or other methods. Even Empress Dowager Cixi, who ruled China in the late 19th century, was known to be fond of bamboo bongs.

The Indian Bongs

A third possible origin of the bong is India, where water pipes have been used for smoking since the 16th century. According to some sources, the water pipe was invented by a physician named Hakim Abul Fath during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Hakim Abul Fath discovered tobacco and suggested that it should be smoked through a small receptacle of water to make it less harmful.

The Indian water pipe is called a hookah or a huqqa, and it differs from the bong in several ways. A hookah has a long flexible hose with a mouthpiece at one end and a metal stem at the other end. The metal stem connects to a glass or metal base that contains water and sometimes other liquids or flavorings. The bowl is attached to the top of the metal stem and holds the tobacco or herbs that are heated by charcoal.

The hookah is designed to be shared by multiple smokers who pass around the hose. It is often used as a social activity in cafes, lounges, or homes. The hookah is also associated with various cultural traditions and rituals in India, Persia, Turkey, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

The Modern Bongs

The modern bongs that we see today are mostly made of glass and are influenced by both Asian and Western styles. Glass bongs are more durable, transparent, and customizable than bamboo or metal bongs. They can also come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and designs.

The glass bong or water pipe was popularized by Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who started making them in the 1960s and 1970s. Snodgrass traveled across the country with the Grateful Dead, a psychedelic rock band, and sold his bongs to hippies and counterculture enthusiasts. He also invented the fuming technique, which involves adding silver or gold to the glass to create color-changing effects.

Since then, glass bongs have become a staple of the cannabis culture and industry. They are widely available in head shops, online stores, and dispensaries. They are also used by celebrities, artists, and activists who advocate for the legalization and normalization of cannabis. Some of the most famous bong users include Tommy Chong, Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen, Rihanna, and Willie Nelson.

The Conclusion

The bong is a fascinating device that has a long and rich history. It has been used by different cultures and regions for centuries for various purposes. It has also evolved over time to suit the preferences and needs of different smokers. The bong is more than just a smoking tool; it is also a symbol of art, culture, and identity.