A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking various herbs or tobacco. It consists of a bowl and a stem that guides the smoke through water and into the user’s mouth. Bongs are popular among smokers who enjoy the smooth and cool hits that they produce. But who invented the bong and how did it become such a widespread phenomenon?
The origin 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-like inventions 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 by archaeologists in 2013, when they were excavating a kurgan (a type of burial mound) for the construction of a power line.
Another ancient civilization that used water pipes for smoking was India, where physician Hakim Abul Fath invented the waterpipe in the 16th century, after discovering tobacco. He suggested that tobacco smoke should be first passed through a small receptacle of water so that it would be rendered harmless. His invention spread to Persia and then to China via the Silk Road, where it became popular among royalty and commoners alike. The Chinese called it a “shui yan”, which means “water smoke”.
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 herbal substances. The Thai word was adopted by Westerners in the 20th century, when they encountered the bamboo pipes in Thailand. One of the earliest recorded uses of the word in English was in the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, published in 1944. Another early use was in the Marijuana Review, a magazine that was published in 1971.
The modern glass bong that we know today was invented by Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who became famous for his psychedelic designs and colors. He invented the fuming technique, which involves vaporizing silver or gold onto glass to create color-changing effects. He started making glass pipes in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was traveling with the Grateful Dead, a rock band that had a large following of cannabis enthusiasts. His pipes appealed to many people who wanted a unique and artistic way to smoke their herbs.
However, the popularity of glass bongs also attracted legal troubles, as U.S. laws passed in 2003 made the sale and transport of “drug paraphernalia” illegal. Many shops were shut down and online sales plummeted. As a result, many glassblowers had to stop making bongs or switch to other products. Today, bongs are still sold for tobacco use only, although many people use them for other purposes.
Besides glass, bongs can also be made from other materials, such as silicone, metal, wood, or plastic. Silicone bongs are flexible and durable, making them ideal for travel or outdoor use. Metal bongs are sturdy and elegant, but they can also be heavy and hot to touch. Wood bongs are natural and rustic, but they can also be hard to clean and maintain. Plastic bongs are cheap and easy to find, but they can also be low-quality and harmful to health.
No matter what material they are made from, bongs are an integral part of smoking culture and history. They have been used by different people across time and space for various reasons: medicinal, recreational, spiritual, or social. They have also inspired creativity and innovation among artists and inventors who have shaped them into beautiful and functional pieces of art. Bongs are more than just smoking devices; they are symbols of identity and expression.