Why did China invent fireworks

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Huo-pau - The Story of Fireworks

More than 600 years have now passed from the day the first fireworks lit the sky to the present day, when 1000s of fireworks were burned off during larger fireworks.

The beginnings of fireworks in China

It all started more than 1000 years ago with the invention of black powder in ancient China, in which the raw materials such as saltpeter (Siao si), charcoal (Mu tan) and sulfur (Lin huang) for black powder were already used in the time of the Hau dynasty ( 25-250 AD) were known. In the Sung period (960-1279) the Chinese already flew the first rockets, then known as fire arrows.
The first use of gunpowder, the Huo-pau, soon followed for warlike purposes, initially only to terrify the enemy. Only a little later there were already the first primitive guns, but they already had the basics of today's weapons.

Developments in Europe

Towards the end of the 13th century the knowledge of black powder is said to have been brought to Europe by Dutch seafarers.
At the same time, the English monk Roger Bacon also experimented with substances that contained the basic components of black powder. In one of his transcripts the following can be found: "Let the total weight be 30, but from the saltpetre take 7 parts, 5 from the young hazel wood and 5 from sulfur, and you will cause thunder and destruction if you know the art."
In addition to Roger Bacon, Berthold the Black also discovered black powder, probably by luck. So it says later in the fireworks book: "Art was invented by a master, his name was Niger Berchtholdus was a nigromantic, born of Greece."

Soon there were hardly any armed conflicts in which the black powder was not used. This is where the first beginnings of fireworks lay, although not for peaceful purposes, but how a war was decided often depended on whether the army had a good fireworker or not.
In addition to their apprenticeship as fireworkers, who taught the budding fireworkers the art of war craft according to strict rules, they also got to know the art of bonfire. The exam also included the performance of a bonfire display, which each participant had to take.

The first peaceful use of gunpowder in Europe took place in 1379. On the occasion of Pentecost, a sacred ritual was celebrated with a spark-spraying dove moving along a rope. The German-language fireworks book was written in 1420, but it was not printed until 1529 in Strasbourg.

The heyday of fireworks in the baroque era


The nobility soon discovered fireworks for themselves, and so the Baroque and Rococo periods became the true heyday for fireworks. There were hardly any occasions that were too small for the nobility not to set off fireworks. The birth of heirs to the throne, the visit of nobles or the victory over enemies - all these and many other events gave rise to fireworks. Financial resources were plentiful at the time, so it didn't matter what the price of a fireworks display was. The effect of the fireworks was of particular interest to the nobility, because fireworks showed the wealth and power of the wealthy nobility from afar.

The special nature of these fireworks, however, was that they consisted not only in the simple burning of fireworks, but rather resembled entire theater plays made of fireworks, especially in successful battles. Weeks before the fireworks, craftsmen were busy building entire castles. Artists created elaborately painted brochures announcing the fireworks, and fireworkers positioned bombs, swarmers, rockets and cannon strikes.
The fireworks could begin. Dragons, representing the attacker, glided to the fortress on a string and triggered whole chain reactions. The fortress began to defend itself, deafening cannon strikes detonated, rockets flew around wildly, wheels of fire left their traces and swarmers flew out to confuse the enemy. At the end of each fireworks display, the enemy was magnificently blown up with a loud roar.

Probably the largest fireworks display in the Baroque period took place in 1770 in the Park of Versailles under Louis XV. instead of. At that time the King of France welcomed his daughter-in-law Marie Antoinette. A total of 20,000 rockets, 6,000 fire pots and volcanoes as well as 80 (up to 30m! Diameter) suns were ignited. But this heyday soon came to an end.
End of the 18th century the nobility ran out of money and the few fireworks that were still burned down were only measly and rare.

Foundation of the first German fireworks company

Although large fireworks had been set off in Germany for a long time, it was not until 1838 that Georg Berckholz, who was previously employed as a gunner, founded the first fireworks company. At first she was based in a shed.

Early 20th century there were already numerous fireworks companies, which now also have the opportunity through developments in chem. Industry, was given to even more brilliant and beautiful fireworks.

The pyrotechnic industry had a lot to do during the world wars. But at the end of every world war, hard times began for fireworks companies. The Second World War in particular caused great difficulties for the fireworks: partial destruction or clearance for reparation payments was a tough test.
Even if they had survived these hard times, the re-entry was not easy and the production of items such as stove lighters and other things began. But already a few years later, the population's interest in seeing fireworks again grew and fireworks were soon back on the program of major events.

On July 15, 1988, the Japanese set off the largest of all fireworks to date on Lake Toya in Hokkaido. The largest spherical bomb so far, with a diameter of 139cm, a weight of 700kg and an explosion diameter of 1200m, was shot down.

Today there are around 40 mostly smaller companies in Germany that produce fireworks.
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