History of fireworks

Fireworks or fireworks are fireworks that use propellant, explosives and special additives to create a spectacular scene, with diverse colors of light, rich and lively shapes to gather the community in the Collective cultural activities, such as opening and closing ceremonies on New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, festivals, national day celebrations, sports congresses at all levels.

As a type of festival firecracker with a long history, fireworks are very popular in the folk of Eastern countries, especially China, since ancient times. However, nowadays fireworks have gained global popularity and are produced mainly in industrial plants.

Fireworks and fireworks differ only by the regional reading, but they are essentially the same. There are some definitions of fireworks as small hand-held firecrackers and fireworks as fireworks fired at holidays, which is incorrect, because their nature is the same.

Fireworks display is an art that creates monumental and colorful landscapes with rich and varied shapes. So when were fireworks discovered by humans?

What created the enchanting masterpiece of art in the night sky? In the atmosphere the whole world is about to enter 2014, we are looking forward to beautiful fireworks displays in many parts of the world. Sharing that atmosphere, I would like to introduce readers to the unexpected discovery of fireworks as well as the development of fireworks throughout history to the present day.

The history of fireworks begins thousands of years ago in China during the Han Dynasty (circa 200 BC). Some even believe that firecrackers appeared before gunpowder was invented. The first type of “firecracker” in history was created when someone accidentally threw bamboo tubes into a burning fire. The hollow bamboo tubes contain air inside, when the temperature rises, the amount of air expands and the pressure inside the bamboo tube increases. When the pressure is large enough, the bamboo shell will burst and … “pop”. The exploding child tube with an explosion is the first type of “cannon” in history.

History of fireworks
The bamboo sticks are the first “firecrackers”

In ancient times, sounds that were never heard by humans would frighten humans and animals. The ancient Chinese believed that if strange sounds could frighten living creatures, they also had the effect of warding off evil spirits. Especially, the Nien devil species destroys crops and eats people on New Year’s Day. Therefore, the Chinese formed the custom of throwing fresh bamboo sticks into the bonfire during the Lunar New Year to scare the Nien devil and other spirits, hoping for happiness and prosperity to come to everyone in the year. new. Gradually, the ancient Chinese used “bamboo cannons” on special occasions such as weddings, coronation or birthdays. special occasion for the next 1000 years.

Although the exact date cannot be determined, many historians believe that the first cannon mixture (the precursor to gunpowder) was discovered in China during the Sui and Tang dynasties (about 600 to 900 AD). AD). It is possible that in the process of making the elixir of immortality, the ancient Taoists accidentally mixed a mixture of sulfur, potassium nitrate, honey, and arsenic nitrite. The inscriptions also record that, when accidentally heated on the fire, the mixture suddenly burned violently, emitting strong light and creating a loud explosion that burned both the hand and face of a Taoist.

History of fireworks
Ancient Chinese gunpowder

Although quite dangerous, the Taoists were fascinated by this mixture and they continued to experiment to find ways to create more powerful explosions. Although the early mixture was not as destructive as modern gunpowder, it could still burn strongly and glow. People named the first mixture “Yaozhou” (Huo Yao) or “flame” or “chemical fire”. Later, it was discovered that if you put “burning powder” inside a bamboo tube and throw it into the fire, it will create a much more powerful explosion than just using fresh bamboo to burn it. From there, the gunpowder stuffed cannon was born.

Over time, it was discovered that the key to creating highly destructive gunpowder was the use of oxygen-rich nitrate salts. They quickly found a way to increase the amount of nitrate in the gunpowder mixture causing it to burn faster, creating powerful firecrackers with a louder sound. Later, it was found that the disadvantage of the bamboo tube is that when burned incompletely, it will produce coal, which limits the power of the cannon. Instead, they used honey and some other recipe to make the shell for the firecracker.

Experience has shown that the explosive effect will vary depending on the different shape and structure of the shell. Various types of shells with different materials and shapes are applied such as bamboo tubes, logs or iron pipes. When detonated, the cannon creates great air pressure and causes the shell to explode and fly in many directions. When placed in an open-ended tube, the gunpowder ignites and emits a large flame along with a thick curtain of smoke.

History of fireworks
Image of “The Flame Spear”

The Chinese gradually became aware of the powerful lethality of gunpowder in explosive devices. By the 10th century, they began to use gunpowder for military purposes. They used gunpowder to create explosive weapons such as crude bombs and “flame arrows ” (bamboo tubes stuffed with gunpowder attached to an arrow, which then ignited and fired at the enemy). However, the original weapons were only intended to create a loud explosion that caused psychological fear to the enemy, but did not have high damage.

Finally, the use of explosive weapons to scare the enemy was switched to destroying the ramparts and destroying the enemy’s life force. In addition to using “rocket arrows” and crude bombs, people also create “flame spears” . An open-ended bamboo tube was stuffed with gunpowder and attached to the tip of a spear. When ignited, the bamboo tube will emit a strong and long flame like a rudimentary flamethrower. Then, people add shards of stone, metal, broken pottery, even arrows into the “flame spear” and shoot it at the enemy to deal more damage. Around the 11th century, the percentage of nitrate was raised to 75% in the gunpowder mixture, leaving 15% carbon black and 10% sulfur (similar to the gunpowder composition used to this day).

History of fireworks
Chinese cannonball

Along with the strong development of gunpowder, the cannons are increasingly improved. Instead of using a bamboo tube as a shell, people replaced it with hard paper to stuff gunpowder inside. They also inserted a silk strip inside and then led out as a fuse to control the time of detonation. Another variant of the cannon, the “ground rat”, was discovered in the 1200s AD. It was an open-ended paper cannon containing gunpowder and rats fixed to a wooden body. Similar to the “flame spear “, when ignited, the firecracker will explode and shoot the rats inside into the air. “Ground rat ” was also quickly applied in the military to intimidate the enemy and cause confusion among the horses.

This is the first rocket model. Civilian artillery developers have used the above method to fire artillery to create a bright explosion in the air. These are the first fireworks.

From the original flaming spear, a cannon was developed. Gunpowder is mixed with small stones or arrows and then rounded into a ball. The “bullet” fired from the barrel due to the pressure of the explosion will carry small weapons inside and deal great damage to the enemy. The first cannons were made with bamboo tubes that were later replaced by metal tubes to create a barrel that could withstand the extreme pressure of the explosion. By this time, military use of gunpowder had spread throughout Asia and the Middle East. In the 1200s, cannons and rockets were used in the Mongols’ war of conquest of Asia.

History of fireworks
Monk Roger Bacon (1214-1294) who was the first to study gunpowder in Europe​

Around the middle of the 13th century, gunpowder began to spread to Europe through diplomats, explorers and missionary monks. The people responsible for importing gunpowder into Europe were the Dominican and Franciscan monks. The monks returning from China brought gunpowder and gave it to Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk and professor at Oxford University. Monk Bacon became the first European to study and document gunpowder. He knew that nitrate salt was the cause of the terrible sound when gunpowder exploded. He began to improve the quality of natural nitrate salts to become more refined to create a larger explosion. In one of his notes, monk Bacon commented that this was a weapon that caused great damage and created a revolution in military warfare.

History of fireworks
Cannons used in Europe

Based on the research of monk Bacon, European scientists have made efforts to create a much more powerful gunpowder. People have created cannons bigger, stronger, more powerful to be able to push huge iron balls to the greatest distance possible. A new weapon was born that ended medieval wars. Metal armor could be pierced by bullets, the walls of fortresses could be destroyed by cannonballs. Not long after, cannon bullets were made hollow inside containing gunpowder and a fuse to cause another explosion when approaching the target.

Gunpowder became popular in the arms races of countries in Europe. Gunpowder factories “powderworks” were built in each country to supply large quantities of gunpowder to the army. In factories, people use donkey and hydraulic power to use large rocks to compress and mix to create a homogeneous gunpowder product. When celebrating victory after battles, the army often pointed cannons and rockets upwards to create a neutral explosion in the air with the cheers of soldiers to show their prestige.

During the years 1400 to 1600, advances in metallurgy resulted in more powerful cannons and smaller guns known as “muskets” . Although firearms are still not as accurate and reliable as modern guns, this is a great advance in military science compared to earlier rudimentary weapons such as javelin, sword and bow. In the end, Europe’s weapons technology has outstripped China’s.

History of fireworks
Marco Polo (1254-1324) – the man who brought fireworks from the East to Italy

While European nations raced to apply gunpowder to the military, the Italians were captivated by fireworks brought back from the East by explorer Marco Polo in 1292. During the European Renaissance ( 1400 to 1500), the Italians began to develop fireworks as a true art. This was the stage of artistic creation and performance, so many types of fireworks were made for the first time during this time. Military rockets are modified by adding metal powder, soot to create explosions containing gold and silver rays in the sky. The Italians created the pyrotechnics (cannons of various shapes with explosives inside) and shot them to the maximum height in the air (the Chinese also made the shells but limited to the shape). bridge).

However, the fireworks displays depend on the arrangement of the launchers placed on the ground to create the most beautiful effects. Single-ended pyrotechnic tubes are placed on a wooden truss mounted on wheels that can be rotated. When performing, the rotating wooden truss creates circular sparks like a fountain of light. The designers also arranged the cannons in various shapes on the ground to create a beautiful scene. Firework displays create excitement and attract crowds during the festival. Fireworks displays quickly became popular throughout Europe during religious ceremonies or special occasions.

Fireworks displays are increasingly organized with larger scale and more complex techniques with the participation of carpenters, welders, masons and painters to create beautiful arrangements. . Fireworks experts found that when placing firecrackers on buoys floating on the water, the sparkling light of the explosion would reflect off the surface of the water, creating shimmering effects for viewers. Since the 1530s, people who light fireworks have been called “green men” because they cover their faces with potion and wear clothes with leaves to prevent sparks from coming out of the fuses. explode.

In the 1500s to 1700s, the most popular fireworks were in the form of a dragon. When lit, the explosions emitted from the mouth create the image of a real fire-breathing dragon. Performances often depict two fire-breathing dragons fighting each other.

History of fireworks
Fireworks show on the River Thames, London​

From the 1730s, fireworks officially became a public display for all people in England, not just for members of the royal family. People from all over Europe flock to UK theme parks to enjoy spectacular fireworks displays. The fuses are then glued together in a sequence to create a continuous sequential fireworks explosion called a “quick match” from which a variety of performance scenarios are built. Performances often depict images of celebrities printed on banknotes.

In the 1600s, people who migrated from Europe to the Americas also brought fireworks to continue using them for special celebrations as well as to scare and scare off the natives. On July 3, 1776, the day the US Congress proclaimed the Declaration of Independence, the people witnessed a spectacular fireworks display by the government as a way to celebrate the great holiday. In the years that followed, fireworks were shown in the United States during the presidential coronation holidays or on New Year’s Eve.

History of fireworks

Today, the method of making and displaying fireworks is increasingly improved according to the development of science and technology. Fireworks are improved in a more modern way to create more beautiful and vibrant shapes, colors, and sounds. In addition, the fireworks are also controlled by an electronic device system to activate the fireworks more accurately and safely. People use different types of metal powder mixed with gunpowder to create the desired color. In addition, they developed star particles to define the image of explosions right in the sky. Combustible particles the size of a coin, sphere, cube or cylinder, etc. contain burning mixture inside. This is the part that determines the shape and color of the fireworks when they explode in the air. Today, a typical firework consists of four main components: the shell, the burning particles, the core and the fuse.

The images produced by fireworks depend on the arrangement of the burning particles inside the firework. If the burning particles are spaced evenly to form a circle in the gunpowder, when it explodes it will form an explosion with equally spaced sparks forming a circle. In order to form certain shapes in the sky, one must first outline the number of burning particles as well as their position in the powder and the distance from the cannon at the core so that when fired the firecracker explodes. , the burning particles will explode at precise times and places in space to form the desired image.

History of fireworks
The usual structure of a modern firework

There is also a complex multibreak fireworks with multiple shells, then the firework will explode in 2 or even 3 stages. Multibreak fireworks are detonated in a chain to create separate consecutive effects, can be light or strong, little sparks or more sparks, different colors, etc. Some types of fireworks also have the ability to emit distinct sounds when burning particles explode.

The fireworks display process is arranged and supported by computer systems and electronic launchers that allow precise representation of predetermined images according to different themes. Sound and background music are also used to increase the excitement for viewers with a spectacular fireworks display full of images and sounds.

Through thousands of years of history, from bamboo tubes accidentally thrown into the fire by someone, to cannons just to serve in war, traveling across many continents with many valuable improvements are finally used. to create a lively and colorful party for people, even becoming a performing art with a variety of manufacturing and performance techniques. Besides, we also realize that an item associated with war like gunpowder can still turn into a work of art if people know how to use it properly. Today, fireworks have become an attractive and lively display that contributes to the festive atmosphere on special occasions.