Glass can be found naturally around volcanoes as obsidian created from cooling lava. Excavations in Ethiopia uncovered bongs that dated somewhere between 1100 and 1400 BCE that were found in the cave, and many extended underground to create a cooling system. These bongs used ducts and bottles that were made out of animal horns and primitive pottery.
However, humans first began blowing glass and using glass tools around 2500-1500 BCE, but the glass was primarily used to make beads for jewellery. Glass blowing technique became more advanced when Ancient Romans developed the “millefiore” (Italian for “thousand flowers”) style, which produced unique markings on the glass. Russia uncovered archaeological remains from around 2400 years ago indicating that chiefs of indigenous tribes smoked out of golden bongs.
The first written records of bong usage come from Central Asia in the 16th century. The word “bong” comes from the Thai word, “buang,” which specifically referred to the bamboo bongs that were common in Central Asia. The use of water in bongs was introduced during the Ming Dynasty in China, which spread via the Silk Road. One Chinese regent, Empress
Dowager Cixi, was even found buried with her three prized bongs during the Qing Dynasty.
The bong industry flourished on the Silk Road for many centuries, especially as tobacco became popular following the European settlement in America. The glass industry flourished too, especially with the popularity of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass lamp shades in the 19th century. However the biggest industry boom came about in the 20th century, with the glass bong renaissance of the 1960’s-70’s.
Bob Snodgras was a massive influence to this movement, designing glass bongs and discovered the “Fuming” process that uses gold and silver to colour glass creating a modern glass revival.
In the late 90’s, Tommy Chong began to brand and sell bongs of his own which he started to sell in American headshops. Today because of the rise of online headshops and continuous advancements in glass blowing techniques, and the legalisation of marijuana around the world, the bong is growing more popular than ever, and the industry has reached an all-time high. Pun intended.