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CRAFT 2700 / CERAM 3700

Resources for Bongs, Beads, and Beer Steins, an advanced craft workshop with John de Fazio.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary's entry for bong, the term derives from Thai and originally referred to a tubular section of bamboo, which could be used in the construction of a water pipe. Modern day bongs or water pipes can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, ceramic, or plastic. 

Research articles are less likely to use colloquial terms like "bong," especially for historic time periods outside of southeast Asia to which the term would not apply. Consider combinations of the following terms: "pipes," "smoking paraphernalia," "water pipes," "smoking," "cannabis," "marijuana," "pharmacological," "psychoactive," "intoxicants," "archeology," "history," or geographical, cultural, or time-period identifiers. 

Early Evidence

The first textual record of cannabis use for intoxication comes from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who famously described the Scythians, an ancient nomadic people, as cannabis users.

First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp seed...The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy...
- Herodotus (484-425 BCE), Histories, Book IV, sections 73-75, translated by Henry Rawlinson, 1862.


Recent archeological evidence confirms the text. Smoking paraphernalia with cannabis residue has been discovered in Scythian kurgans (funerary mounds). Archeologists have also discovered water-pipes with residual cannabis in East Africa, Central Asia, and elsewhere.

These articles are good examples of the types of scholarship related to the history of water pipes in the CCA Libraries digital collections.