A bong is a filtration device that is used for smoking herbs or tobacco. 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 enjoy the smooth and cool hits that they produce. But who invented the bong and how did it become so widespread?
The Origins of the Bong
The word bong comes from the Thai word “baung” or “bong”, which means a cylindrical wooden tube or pipe. However, the history of the bong goes back much further than Thailand. According to archaeological evidence, the earliest bongs were used by the Scythian tribal chiefs in what is now Russia around 2400 years ago. These bongs were made of solid gold and were used to smoke cannabis and opium.
Another ancient civilization that used bongs was Africa. In 2013, researchers found 12 bongs made of pottery in an Ethiopian cave that dated back to 1100 BC. These bongs were also used to smoke cannabis and other psychoactive plants.
In Asia, bongs were introduced to China during the late Ming Dynasty (16th century) through the Silk Road. They were mainly used to smoke tobacco, which was a new and exotic substance at the time. Bongs became very popular among the Chinese royalty and nobility, especially Empress Dowager Cixi, who was buried with several of her favorite bongs in 1908.
The Modernization of the Bong
The bong as we know it today was largely influenced by Bob Snodgrass, an American glassblower who invented the fuming technique that gives glass bongs their characteristic psychedelic colors. He started making glass bongs in the 1960s and 1970s, during the hippie era, and sold them at concerts and festivals. His bongs appealed to a wide range of people who enjoyed smoking herbs for recreational or medicinal purposes.
However, in 2003, the US laws passed the Drug Paraphernalia Statute, which made the sale and transport of bongs illegal. Many shops were shut down and online sales plummeted. Bongs were only allowed to be sold for tobacco use only, and many smokers had to resort to homemade or improvised bongs made from plastic bottles, cans, or other materials.
The Future of the Bong
Today, there are many types of bongs available for every taste and budget. Glass is still the preferred material among most users, because it is easy to clean, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. However, other materials such as silicone, metal, or wood have also gained popularity in recent years. Silicone bongs are flexible, portable, and resistant to breaking. Metal bongs are sturdy, sleek, and can be inspired by ancient designs. Wood bongs are natural, organic, and can have a unique flavor.
Bongs have also evolved in terms of features and functions. Some bongs have percolators, which are additional chambers that filter and cool the smoke even more. Some bongs have ice catchers, which allow users to add ice cubes to the water for a frosty hit. Some bongs have ash catchers, which prevent ash from entering the water and keep the bong cleaner.
Bongs are not only a smoking device, but also a cultural icon and a piece of art. They have a long and rich history that spans across continents and centuries. They have been used by different people for different purposes, but they all share a common goal: to enjoy a smooth and satisfying smoking experience.