A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking herb, tobacco, or other substances. 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 than other methods of inhalation. But who invented the bong and how did it become so widespread?
The history of the bong 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 the bong.
The Oldest Bongs
The oldest known bongs were discovered in 2013 by Russian archaeologists who were excavating a Scythian burial mound in the Caucasus Mountains. The Scythians were a nomadic people who ruled large parts of Eastern Europe and Asia from the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD. They were known for their fierce warriors, rich art, and use of herb and opium.
The bongs that were found in the burial mound date back to around 400 BC and were made of solid gold. They were decorated with intricate scenes of Scythian life, such as hunting, fighting, and feasting. The bongs were used to smoke herb and opium mixed with hemp seeds, which was a common practice among the Scythians.
The Scythian bongs are the oldest examples of water pipes that have ever been unearthed, but they are not the only ones. Other ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, and the Africans, also used water pipes for smoking various substances.
The Asian Bongs
One of the most likely places where the bong originated is Asia, especially China and India. The word “bong” itself is derived from the Thai word “baung”, which means a cylindrical wooden tube or pipe. The Thai people have been using bamboo bongs for smoking herb and tobacco for centuries.
The Chinese also have a long history of using water pipes, which they call “shui yan”. According to some sources, the water pipe was invented in China during the late Ming Dynasty (16th century) by a physician named Liu Shi Zhen. He wanted to find a way to purify the smoke from tobacco, which was introduced to China by the Portuguese traders.
The water pipe then spread to other parts of Asia through trade and cultural exchange. The Indians adopted the water pipe and called it “hookah”, which means a pipe with a long flexible tube. The hookah was used to smoke tobacco mixed with molasses and fruit flavors. The Persians also used hookahs and called them “narghile”, which means a coconut shell.
The African Bongs
Another possible origin of the bong is Africa, where many tribes have been using water pipes for smoking herb and tobacco for centuries. The African water pipes are usually made of gourds, horns, or clay pots. They are often decorated with beads, shells, or feathers.
One of the most famous African water pipes is the “sebsi”, which is used by the Berber people of Morocco. The sebsi consists of a clay bowl and a long wooden stem that can be up to 40 inches long. The sebsi is used to smoke kif, which is a mixture of herb and tobacco.
Another African water pipe is the “madila”, which is used by the Bantu people of South Africa. The madila is made of a calabash gourd and a metal or wooden stem. The madila is used to smoke dagga, which is another name for herb.
The Modern Bongs
The modern bongs that we see today are mostly made of glass and are influenced by the hippie culture of the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, many people experimented with different ways of smoking herb, such as joints, pipes, vaporizers, and bongs.
One of the pioneers of glass bongs was Bob Snodgrass, an American artist who started making glass pipes in 1971. He invented a technique called fuming, which involves adding silver or gold to the glass to create color-changing effects. He also created various shapes and designs for his bongs, such as dragons, skulls, and mushrooms.
Snodgrass traveled across the country with the Grateful Dead, a famous rock band, and sold his bongs to their fans. He also taught his skills to other glassblowers, who continued to innovate and improve the bong industry. Today, there are many types and styles of glass bongs, such as percolators, recyclers, bubblers, and ice catchers.
The bong is a fascinating device that has a long and rich history. It has been used by different cultures and regions for smoking herb, tobacco, and other substances. It has evolved from simple wooden or metal tubes to complex glass pieces with various features and functions. The bong is not only a tool for smoking, but also a symbol of art, culture, and creativity.