Who Invented the Bong?

A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking various herbal substances, such as tobacco or herb. It consists of a bowl and a stem that guide the smoke through water, creating bubbles and cooling the smoke before it is inhaled. Bongs are popular among smokers who enjoy the smooth and flavorful experience they provide. But where did this device come from? Who invented the bong and when?

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 give us some clues about the origin and evolution of the bong.

The Ancient Bongs

One of the oldest examples of a bong was found in Russia in 2013, during an excavation of a Scythian burial mound. The Scythians were a nomadic people who lived in eastern Europe and Asia from the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD. They were known for their skills in warfare, horse riding, and art. They were also fond of smoking herb and opium, as evidenced by their gold vessels that were used as bongs.

The gold bongs date back to around 400 BC, making them about 2400 years old. They were beautifully decorated with scenes of Scythian life, such as hunting, fighting, and dancing. They were also very valuable, as gold was a rare and precious metal at the time. The Scythians probably used these bongs for ceremonial or ritual purposes, as well as for pleasure.

Another ancient culture that used bongs was China. According to some sources, the water pipe was invented in China during the late Ming Dynasty (16th century), along with tobacco, through Persia and the Silk Road. The water pipe was similar to a hookah, but smaller and more portable. It was made of metal or bamboo, and had a bowl, a stem, and a water chamber. The Chinese water pipe was popular among merchants, urbanites, and nobility, especially during the Qing Dynasty (17th-20th century). Some of the water pipes were buried with emperors and empresses, such as Empress Dowager Cixi, who preferred them over snuff bottles or other methods of intake.

The Modern Bongs

The word “bong” is derived from the Thai word “baung”, which means a cylindrical wooden tube or pipe. The Thai baung was a simple bamboo water pipe that was used by country people for smoking herb or tobacco. It was probably introduced to Thailand by Chinese traders or immigrants, who brought their water pipes with them.

The bamboo bong spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. It also reached Africa, where it was used by various tribes for smoking herb or tobacco. The African bongs were made of wood, clay, gourds, or horns. They were sometimes decorated with beads, shells, or feathers.

The bong became known to the Western world in the early 20th century, when travelers and explorers encountered it in Asia and Africa. However, it did not become popular until the 1960s and 1970s, when hippies and counterculture movements embraced it as a symbol of freedom and rebellion. The bong also became associated with cannabis culture, as many users preferred it over joints or pipes for smoking herb.

The modern bong has evolved from its ancient predecessors in terms of design and material. Today, bongs are made of glass, acrylic, silicone, ceramic, metal, or plastic. They come in various shapes and sizes, and have different features such as percolators, ice catchers, diffusers, ash catchers, carburetors, etc. Some bongs are even designed to look like characters or objects from pop culture.

One of the pioneers of glass bongs was Bob Snodgrass , an American artist who started making them in the late 1960s. He invented the fuming technique , which involves adding silver or gold to the glass to create color-changing effects. He also created many unique designs and styles of glass bongs , such as spoons , hammers , sherlocks , bubblers , sidecars , etc. He influenced many other glass artists and helped establish the glass art community.


The bong is a fascinating device that has a long and rich history. It has been used by different cultures and peoples for various purposes , such as smoking herb or tobacco, relaxing, socializing, or celebrating. It has also been a source of artistic expression and innovation, as well as a symbol of identity and resistance. The bong is more than just a smoking tool, it is a cultural artifact that reflects the diversity and creativity of humanity.