The History of Fireworks

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Li Tians toomb in Dayao, Hunan in China. Photo: Anders Hållinder 2007
Li Tians toomb in Dayao, Hunan in China. Photo: Anders Hållinder 2007

Fireworks are types of pyrotecnics that are used for entertainment. Usually Fireworks are used for celebrations, New Year and other big and small occations.

[edit] History

Fireworks are known since around 1400 in Europe. Black powder came to Europe around 1250. The tradition says that Black Powder came from China where it was discovered earlier. According to one version it was Li Tian, who had been named to Zhusheng (the sound of bamboo). He was borne in Dayao, Liuyang in Hunan provins, the 18th of april the year 601, under the emperor Renshou and died in the age of 89 years in the year 690. His tomb is in Beidahe in the old Dayao (outside Liuyang, Hunan). In China crackers and fireworks are still used to scare away evil spirits in many occations as funerals, weddings, openings of shops and for festivals.

Probably the techniques were spead with travelers and merchants to Europe. The Europeans developed the use of black powder and fireworks further. Today the largest production sites of fireworks are in China, but many other countries as Italy, Spain, India and others have their own production of smaller quantities. Japan has a unique tradition in fireworks ("hanabi", which means flowers of fire).

Some milestones:

1044 Chinese formulas for gunpowder

1267 Earliest references to gunpowder in Europe. (Roger Bacon)

1300 (around) First formulas emerged

1326 City of Florence planned to buy "canones de metallo" and ammunition

1331 First recorded military use at Cividale ( north of Trieste, Italy )

1338 A Ribaudequin and 48 bolts where used to attac and burn Southampton

1346 Battle of Crécy where Guns where used

1540 Pirotechnia by Biringuccio is published in Italy. He describes roman candles, girandoles, crackers and rockets.He also tells that the Pope at celebrations in Rome uses fireworks since many years.

1605 November 5, Guy Fawkes tries to blow up the Parliament with 3600 pounds of gunpowder

1845 Christian Friedrich Schönbein discovers nitrated cellulose ( nitrocellulose, guncotton )

1845 Ascanio Sobrero discovers nitrated glycerin ( nitroglycerin )

1864 Alfred Nobel patented his blasting cap

1867 Alfred Nobel patented dynamite

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