A bong is a device that filters smoke through water, usually used for smoking herbs or tobacco. Bongs come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, but they all share the same basic principle: a bowl where the substance is burned, a stem that connects the bowl to the water chamber, and a mouthpiece where the smoke is inhaled. Bongs are popular among smokers because they can produce smoother and cooler hits than other methods.
But where did bongs come from? Who invented them and when? The history of bongs is not very clear, as different cultures and regions have used similar devices for centuries. However, some archaeological and historical evidence can shed some light on the origin and evolution of bongs. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the history of bongs.
The Oldest Bongs in the World
The oldest bongs ever discovered were found in Russia in 2013, during an excavation of a Scythian burial mound. The Scythians were a nomadic people who lived in Eurasia from the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD. They were known for their skills in warfare, horseback riding, and art. They were also avid users of herbs and opium, which they smoked in elaborate gold vessels.
The two bongs that were unearthed were made of solid gold and decorated with images of Scythian life and mythology. They date back to around 400 BC, making them about 2400 years old. They were probably used by Scythian tribal chiefs or nobles, as they were buried with other valuable items such as gold jewelry and weapons. The bongs were also found to contain traces of herbs and opium, confirming their use as smoking devices.
The Asian Roots of Bongs
Although the Scythian bongs are the oldest ones ever found, they are not necessarily the first ones ever made. Some historians believe that bongs originated in Asia, where similar devices have been used for millennia. The word “bong” itself comes from the Thai word “baung”, which refers to a cylindrical bamboo tube or pipe used for smoking.
Bamboo bongs have been used by various Asian cultures, such as the Hmong in Laos and Thailand, and the Chinese in mainland China and Taiwan. Bamboo bongs are easy to make and durable, as bamboo is a fast-growing and abundant plant. Bamboo bongs can also vary in size and design, depending on the preference of the user.
Another possible origin of bongs is India, where water pipes have been used since the 16th century. According to some sources, the water pipe was invented by a physician named Hakim Abul Fath, who discovered tobacco and suggested that its smoke should be passed through water to make it less harmful. The water pipe was then adopted by the Mughal emperor Akbar and his successors, who enjoyed smoking tobacco mixed with herbs and spices.
The Western Spread of Bongs
Bongs did not become popular in the West until the 20th century, when they were introduced by travelers, traders, and soldiers who visited or lived in Asia. Bongs were also influenced by hookahs, which are water pipes that originated in Persia and spread to other parts of the Middle East and Africa. Hookahs are typically larger and more ornate than bongs, and are often used for social gatherings.
In the 1960s and 1970s, bongs became associated with the hippie culture and the counterculture movement in general. Bongs were seen as a symbol of rebellion, freedom, and creativity. Many people experimented with making their own bongs out of various materials, such as plastic bottles, metal cans, glass jars, or even fruits and vegetables.
One of the most influential figures in the history of bongs is Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who invented the glass bong in the late 1970s. Snodgrass was traveling with a group of musicians called The Grateful Dead, selling his glass pipes and jewelry at their concerts. He discovered a technique called fuming, which involves coating glass with silver or gold to create color-changing effects. He applied this technique to his glass pipes, creating unique and beautiful pieces that attracted many customers.
Snodgrass is considered the father of modern glass art and the founder of the American pipe-making industry. He taught many other glassblowers his skills and techniques, creating a community of artists who continue to innovate and experiment with glass bongs. Today, glass bongs are the most popular and widely available type of bongs, as they offer a variety of shapes, colors, and designs.
The Future of Bongs
Bongs have come a long way since their ancient origins. They have evolved from simple bamboo tubes to sophisticated glass artworks. They have also adapted to the changing preferences and needs of smokers, incorporating features such as percolators, ice catchers, diffusers, and ash catchers to enhance the smoking experience.
As technology advances, bongs are also becoming more modern and futuristic. Some examples of this are electric bongs, which use batteries or chargers to heat up the substance instead of fire; silicone bongs, which are flexible and unbreakable; and smart bongs, which can be controlled by apps or voice commands.
Bongs are not only a device for smoking, but also a cultural phenomenon that reflects the history and diversity of human society. Bongs are a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of people who have used them for centuries. Bongs are also a source of enjoyment and relaxation for millions of smokers around the world. Bongs are more than just a tool, they are a lifestyle.