Bongs: A Brief History

Bongs: A Brief History

As America’s favorite smoking tool, the bong is known for its ability to deliver a clean, smooth hit during each smoking session. In other words, all smokers love bongs. But before online headshops became the primary source of smoking paraphernalia, bongs were not nearly as readily available as they are now. Despite their recent popularity, however, bongs have been around for hundreds (or thousands) of years. Read on to learn more about the history of the bong, and how our favorite smoking tool has grown into prominence.

Earliest Bongs

The oldest bongs known to man date back to about 2,400 years ago, and are traced back to the nomadic Scythian tribe. To our knowledge, these bongs were used only by tribal leaders, which makes sense, considering they were made of gold.

After Scythian bongs, the next known bongs were found in an Ethiopian cave. These water pipes were made of bottles, ducts, animal horns, and other raw primitive materials. Interestingly enough, some of these bongs were connected through an underground cooling network. Perhaps they were on to something.

If only ancient Ethiopians knew the wonders of modern glass.

China Glass Wu Dynasty Vase Bong

Water Pipe Cultural Diffusion: Asia

The popularity of bamboo bongs in Thailand led to the cultural diffusion of this concept. Bongs then became popular in China, where the Ming Dynasty utilized the Silk Road to trade them. In fact, people living during this era held bongs in such high regard that one monarch was buried with her prized pieces.

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Bong Industry Revitalization

Fast-forward a few hundred years to the Western hippie movement. This is when bongs started to gain real popularity. Bob Snodgrass, sometimes referred to as the “godfather of artistic hard glass”, pioneered the now-famous fuming glasswork technique. After perfecting this technique, he then led the charge in making glass water pipes available to everyone. Snodgrass sold many of these bongs at Grateful Dead concerts. Interestingly enough, the Grateful Dead are also responsible for popularizing 420a as a marijuana-related term.

After Snodgrass showed the world what it was like to smoke out of a water pipe, others began to adopt his methods. Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame) famously sold bongs under his own name, using his status as a comedian to influence sales.

Following the surge of bongs throughout urban areas (NY, California), headshops became extremely popular as a hub for drug paraphernalia, including bongs.

In the early 2000’s, the government took an aggressive stance toward banning the sale of all bongs. After this phase calmed down significantly, however, headshops have sprouted back into popularity.

Present Day

In an age where marijuana has become legal in some states, and decriminalization is constantly in the news, headshops are permitted to sell bongs for legal use.

As self-proclaimed smoking enthusiasts, our online headshop has a variety of glass water pipes available for customers. We offer premium water pipes in several price ranges, including some below $100. Check out our guide on how to use a bong, too!

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