The bong is a popular device for smoking herbs or tobacco, especially among cannabis enthusiasts. But have you ever wondered who invented the bong and how it came to be? The history of the bong is not as straightforward as you might think. There are different theories and evidence that suggest different origins and timelines for this fascinating invention.
The Ancient Origins of the Bong
One of the earliest and most surprising discoveries of bongs dates back to around 2400 years ago, when Russian archaeologists uncovered two solid gold bongs in a Scythian burial mound in 2013. The Scythians were a nomadic people who ruled large parts of eastern Europe and Asia for more than 1000 years. They were known for their prowess in warfare, horsemanship, and art. The gold bongs were decorated with scenes of Scythian life and mythology, and contained traces of cannabis and opium residues. This suggests that the Scythians used bongs to smoke these substances as part of their rituals or ceremonies.
Another ancient origin of the bong can be traced to Asia, where bamboo pipes were used for smoking various herbs. The word “bong” itself is derived from the Thai word “baung”, which refers to a cylindrical bamboo tube or container. The use of bamboo bongs spread across Southeast Asia, China, and India, where they were also known as hookahs or water pipes. Some sources claim that the water pipe was invented in India by a physician named Hakim Abul Fath in the 16th century, who suggested that passing tobacco smoke through water would make it less harmful. However, other sources argue that the water pipe was already in use in China during the late Ming Dynasty (16th century), along with tobacco, through Persia and the Silk Road.
A third possible origin of the bong can be found in Africa, where archaeological digs have revealed clay and wooden water pipes that date back to around 1100 AD. These pipes were used by various tribes and cultures across the continent to smoke cannabis, tobacco, or other herbs. The African pipes were similar to the bamboo bongs in Asia, but they also had some unique features, such as lit coals placed in a bottle that was buried in the ground, or metal bowls attached to gourds or horns.
The Modern Evolution of the Bong
The bong as we know it today was largely influenced by the hippie culture and the glassblowing art in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, cannabis became more popular and widely available in the West, and people started experimenting with different ways of smoking it. One of these ways was using glass bottles or jars as makeshift bongs, by cutting holes in them and inserting tubes or hoses. These homemade bongs were cheap and easy to make, but they also had some drawbacks, such as breaking easily or leaking water.
This is where Bob Snodgrass comes in. Snodgrass is considered to be the father of modern glass bongs and pipes. He was a glassblower who traveled across the country with his family and sold his creations at Grateful Dead concerts and festivals. He invented a technique called fuming, which involves vaporizing silver or gold onto glass to create colorful patterns and effects. He also pioneered the use of borosilicate glass, which is more durable and heat-resistant than regular glass. Snodgrass made his first glass bong in 1979, after being inspired by a ceramic bong he saw at a friend’s house. He then started making more glass bongs and pipes with different shapes, sizes, designs, and features.
Snodgrass’s work inspired many other glassblowers and artists to follow his footsteps and create their own unique bongs and pipes. Today, there are countless varieties of glass bongs available on the market, ranging from simple and functional to elaborate and artistic. Some of the most common types of glass bongs include beaker bongs, straight tube bongs, percolator bongs, recycler bongs, gravity bongs, bubbler bongs, mini bongs, silicone bongs, acrylic bongs, and more. Each type of bong has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on factors such as size, shape, filtration system, durability, portability, and price.
The bong is a fascinating invention that has a long and rich history. It has been used by different cultures and civilizations for thousands of years, for various purposes and pleasures. It has also evolved over time, from simple and crude devices to sophisticated and beautiful ones. The bong is not only a tool for smoking herbs or tobacco, but also a symbol of creativity, culture, and community.