Many historians believe that fireworks originally were developed in the second century B.C. in ancient Liuyang, China. It is believed that the first natural "firecrackers" were bamboo stalks that when thrown in a fire, would explode with a bang because of the overheating of the hollow air pockets in the bamboo. The Chinese believed these natural "firecrackers" would ward off evil spirits. Sometime during the period 600-900 AD, legend has it that a Chinese alchemist mixed potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal to produce a black, flaky powder – the first “gunpowder”. This powder was poured into hallowed out bamboo sticks (and later stiff paper tubes) forming the first man made fireworks. (americanpyro.com/)
Below on the left is an illustration of a fireworks display from the 1628-1643 edition of the Ming Dynasty novel Jin Ping Mei. And on the right is an 18th-century illustration of Chinese fireworks from an English abstract of an account of China by French Jesuit Pierre Nicolas d'Incarville.
In 1240 the Arabs acquired knowledge of gunpowder and its uses from China. A Syrian named Hasan al-Rammah wrote of rockets, fireworks, and other incendiaries, using terms that suggested he derived his knowledge from Chinese sources, such as his references to fireworks as "Chinese flowers".(en.wikipedia.org)
Below is an illustration of a firework display for Muḥammad Sháh, portrayed seated and leaning against a bolster.
Fireworks made their way to Europe in the 13th century and by the 15th century they were widely used for religious festivals and public entertainment. The Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks and European rulers were especially fond of the use of fireworks to “enchant their subjects and illuminate their castles on important occasions.” (americanpyro.com/)
Below is a beautiful etching of the Royal Fireworks display on the Thames, London, England in 1749. I think this fireworks display would rival any that is created today.
Modern firework displays are common all round the world and in fact there is rivalry to see which display can be the most spectular. Below we can see
Fireworks on Qatar National Day 2018 in Doha and
Bastille Day fireworks over Paris, France 2013
And here we have:
Two ignited Catherine wheels spinning during a traditional Maltese feast and
A fireworks display on Taipei 101, Taiwan, which in 2005 held the world's first fireworks display on a supertall skyscraper.
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