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, but have you ever wondered who invented the bong and how it came to be?

The history of the bong is not very clear, as different cultures and regions have used similar devices for centuries. However, some of the earliest evidence of bong use dates back to 2400 years ago, when Scythian tribal chiefs in Russia used solid gold vessels to smoke cannabis and opium. These vessels were discovered in 2013 during an excavation of a kurgan, a type of burial mound.

Another ancient civilization that used water pipes was India, where physician Hakim Abul Fath invented the waterpipe in the 16th century and discovered tobacco. He suggested that tobacco smoke should be passed through a small receptacle of water to make it harmless. His invention spread to Persia and then to China via the Silk Road, where it became the most popular method to smoke tobacco during the Qing Dynasty. Even Empress Dowager Cixi preferred water pipes over other methods and was buried with some of her favorites in the early 1900s.

The word “bong” itself comes from the Thai word “baung” or “bong”, which refers to a cylindrical bamboo tube or container that was used for smoking cannabis, tobacco, or other herbs. The term was first recorded in the West in 1944 in the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, and later in 1971 in the Marijuana Review.

The modern bong that we know today was largely influenced by Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who invented the fuming technique that gives glass pipes their psychedelic colors. He started making glass bongs in the 1960s and 1970s and sold them at Grateful Dead concerts and other events. His bongs appealed to a wide range of people who wanted to enjoy their herbs in a more artistic and creative way.

However, the bong industry faced a major setback in 2003 when U.S. laws banned the sale and transport of “drug paraphernalia”. Many shops were shut down and online sales plummeted. Bongs were only allowed to be sold for tobacco use only, which limited their market and popularity.

Today, bongs are still widely used by smokers who appreciate their filtration and cooling effects. There are many types and designs of bongs available, made from different materials such as glass, silicone, metal, or wood. Some bong makers have even looked back to the ancient world for inspiration and have experimented with gold or bamboo pipes.

Bongs are more than just smoking devices; they are also cultural artifacts that reflect the history and diversity of human civilizations. From Scythian chiefs to Chinese empresses, from Indian physicians to American hippies, bongs have been used by people from different backgrounds and eras for various purposes and pleasures. Who knows what the future of bongs will bring?