A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking various herbs or tobacco. 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 smooth and flavorful hits, 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 archaeological evidence and historical records can shed some light on the origins and evolution of the bong.
The Ancient Bongs
One of the earliest known examples of a bong-like device dates back to around 400 BC, when Scythian tribal chiefs in what is now Russia used solid gold vessels to smoke herbs and opium. These vessels were discovered in 2013 during an excavation of a kurgan, a type of burial mound. The vessels had a hole on the top for placing the herbs, and a tube on the side for inhaling the smoke. The vessels also had intricate decorations and symbols, indicating their importance and prestige.
Another ancient culture that used water pipes was Africa, where several tribes made bongs out of gourds, horns, or coals. One of the oldest bongs found in Africa dates back to the 16th century and was made using a bottle buried in the ground with lit coals inside, and herbs placed on top of the coals. The smoke would then travel through a tube to a mouthpiece.
In Asia, water pipes were also widely used, especially in India, China, and Thailand. Some historians credit Hakim Abul Fath, a physician in India during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century, as the inventor of the water pipe. He suggested that tobacco smoke should be passed through water to make it less harmful.
In China, water pipes became popular during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), when tobacco was introduced through Persia and the Silk Road. Water pipes were preferred by both commoners and royalty, as they were seen as more elegant and refined than other methods of smoking. Empress Dowager Cixi, for example, was buried with several water pipes when she died in 1908.
In Thailand, water pipes were made from bamboo and called “buang” or “baung”. This is where the English word “bong” comes from, as it was adapted by Western travelers who encountered these devices in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Modern Bongs
The bong as we know it today was largely influenced by Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who pioneered the art of making glass bongs in the 1960s and 1970s. He invented the fuming technique that gives glass bongs their characteristic psychedelic colors and patterns. He also experimented with different shapes, sizes, and features, such as percolators, ice catchers, and carburetors. His bongs appealed to a wide range of smokers who enjoyed their aesthetics and functionality.
However, the popularity of glass bongs was disrupted by U.S. laws that passed in 2003, which made the sale and transport of “drug paraphernalia” illegal. Many shops were shut down and online sales plummeted. As a result, glass bongs became more scarce and expensive, while other materials such as silicone, metal, or wood became more common.
Today, there are many types of bongs available for every taste and budget. Some are inspired by ancient designs or exotic cultures, while others are innovative and futuristic. Some are simple and practical, while others are elaborate and artistic. Some are cheap and disposable, while others are expensive and collectible. Whatever your preference, there is a bong out there for you.
The bong is a fascinating device that has a long and rich history across different continents and civilizations. It has evolved from crude smoking devices made from natural materials to sophisticated glass artworks that showcase craftsmanship and creativity. It has been used by kings and queens as well as peasants and hippies. It has been banned and persecuted as well as celebrated and admired. It has been a source of pleasure and relaxation as well as controversy and debate.
The bong is more than just a smoking device; it is a cultural icon that reflects the diversity and complexity of human history and society.