Skip to content
The Cultural Significance Of Bongs- A Global Perspective

The Cultural Significance Of Bongs- A Global Perspective

At its core, the bong is a functional tool - a water pipe used for centuries by those who enjoy smoking various herbs. It has a chamber for water, a bowl to hold the substance, a downstem to guide the smoke into the water, and a mouthpiece to inhale the filtered smoke.

Using a bong can provide a smoother and less harsh smoking experience compared to other methods like smoking joints or pipes. But beyond its primary function, which is the filtration of inhaled smoke, the smoking bong holds a surprising amount of cultural significance.

Across the globe, bongs have found their way into spiritual ceremonies, artistic expression, and even social settings, becoming more than just a smoking device.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how this seemingly simple device has become so deeply woven into the fabric of numerous societies.

The Timeless Tale of Smoking Bongs

Bongs hold significant symbolic meaning in traditional contexts. For example:

In some cultures, bongs symbolize hospitality as they are often passed around during social gatherings to promote bonding and community.  In other cultures, bongs symbolize power and authority, with the person who controls the bong being viewed as a leader or wise person.

Some spiritual experts believe that the bong itself is a link between the physical and spiritual realms. The smoke is believed to carry prayers and offerings to ancestors or spirits.

During rituals and ceremonies, bongs are passed between members of the community as a means of strengthening social bonds. Some African cultures use animal horns to decorate bongs, which may symbolize the power and strength of the animal.

Several ancient traditions have incorporated the use of bongs into their rituals and ceremonies. Here are a few:

  • In Thailand, a bong-like device called a "buk" is used in a traditional ceremony called "Kathin," where it is passed around in a circle during a communal meal.
  • In South Africa, the Xhosa tribe uses a type of bong called an "ibongo" in rituals and ceremonies, including initiation ceremonies for boys transitioning into manhood.
  • In some indigenous cultures in South America, bongs are used to smoke hallucinogenic plants such as ayahuasca in spiritual and healing ceremonies.
  • In some Native American cultures, bongs are used as a part of healing rituals, with different types of herbs being smoked to heal physical or spiritual ailments.

Global Spread and Growing Interest in Bongs

Bong culture has spread across the world in an interesting and complex process. In the 1960s and 1970s, the bong became popular in the United States and Europe, especially among the counterculture movement and cannabis users.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the bong gained popularity in Asia, particularly in countries like Japan and Korea, where it became fashionable among young people.

Throughout the 2000s, the bong continued to spread to countries like Australia and New Zealand, where it became associated with the "stoner" subculture. Recently, some countries have legalized cannabis, which has further expanded the bong culture.

The global spread of bongs can be attributed to the media's influence. Popular movies, TV shows, and music have helped to increase the popularity of bongs, especially girly bongs among the younger generations. These cute girly bong pieces are often used in social settings to start a conversation or express one’s individuality.

Tourism is another factor that has contributed to the spread of bongs. As people travel to different countries, they may encounter bongs and either bring them back home or use them while touring the rest of the world.

Common Cultural Variations

The design, materials, and styles of bongs differ significantly depending on their cultural origin.

In Eastern cultures such as China and Thailand, bongs are frequently made of ceramic or porcelain and may feature intricate designs or animal patterns. A few were also constructed of bamboo and wood.

In Western cultures, such as the United States and Europe, bongs are typically made of glass and come in a variety of designs and colors, ranging from basic straight tubes to intricate, multi-chambered pieces.

In African cultures, such as the Xhosa tribe, bongs are usually made of animal horns or other natural materials and may have simple, functional designs.

In the indigenous cultures of South America, bongs may be created using natural materials such as gourds or bamboo and decorated with feathers or other symbolic items that hold symbolic meaning or are used in ritual ceremonies.

Social and Recreational Aspects

Bongs have become a popular part of contemporary social settings, even in countries where the use of cannabis is considered illegal.

These bongs are often brought out at parties and social gatherings, where they are passed around among friends for shared smoking experiences. You’ll also find bongs at music festivals and concerts, where they are used to enhance the enjoyment of the music and socialize with others.

Some specific events and gatherings celebrate cannabis culture, such as the annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, where bongs and other smoking devices are prominently featured.

Bongs have a strong communal aspect, which can contribute to social bonding and camaraderie. They can serve as excellent conversation starters which get people to talk about their experiences with different types of bongs or discuss their favorite strains of cannabis.

Must Read: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Bong for Your Smoking Style

Legal and Political Dimensions

The legal status of bongs and cannabis varies greatly across countries and regions. Some countries have legalized or decriminalized cannabis use, while others maintain strict laws against it. 

  • In the United States, the legality of bongs depends on the state. Some states allow the use of bongs for tobacco or cannabis, while others prohibit their use entirely. 
  • In the Netherlands, cannabis is legal for personal use, and bongs can be bought and used openly in coffee shops and other public places. 
  • In Canada, cannabis and bongs are legal for personal use and possession, with regulations varying by province. 
  • In Australia, the use and possession of bongs are illegal in most states, with fines and possible imprisonment for possession or sale. 
  • In Japan, cannabis and bongs are illegal, with strict penalties for possession, use, or sale.

Contemporary Trends - What’s New in the World of Bongs

The world of bongs is constantly evolving, with new designs, technologies, and consumption habits emerging all the time.

Here are a few contemporary trends that have emerged in the evolution story of bongs:


Electronic bongs are becoming increasingly popular, which use a heating element to vaporize the cannabis instead of burning it, producing fewer toxins and a more discreet and portable smoking experience.

Smart bongs

Some bongs are now being equipped with smart technology, such as Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone apps, which allow users to control the temperature, lighting, and other settings of their bongs from their phones.

Customization Options

Bongs are now being customized to a greater extent than ever before, with users able to choose from a wide range of colors, designs, and materials to create a unique and personalized smoking experience.

We also now have cute girly bongs for women looking to add a touch of style and femininity to their smoking experience.

The Influence Of Social Media On Bong Evolution

Popular culture, social media, and online communities have had a significant influence on bong-related trends. Here are some examples:

  • Influencers and celebrities: Social media influencers and celebrities can have a strong impact on bong-related trends, with their endorsement of specific brands or designs driving demand and shaping cultural norms.
  • Hashtags and memes: Hashtags and memes related to cannabis and bong culture can spread rapidly on social media, influencing the way people talk about and use bongs.
  • Online communities: Online communities, such as Reddit and Instagram, have become important spaces for people to share information, experiences, and reviews about bongs and cannabis, influencing trends and cultural norms.

If you are a cannabis enthusiast, chances are you are following several accounts of hemp companies and online head shops that sell bongs and bong accessories. Most of these channels celebrate the recreational use of  cannabis and often share innovative products that aim to enhance your smoking sessions. 


Bongs have a long and interesting history, originating from ancient cultures and still being used in modern times. Even though people's attitudes towards cannabis have changed over time, bongs have remained a significant part of our social scene.

Bongs represent human creativity and our ongoing fascination with altering our minds and connecting with others.

As long as people appreciate the communal and ritualistic aspects of smoking, and are drawn to the beauty and functionality of these devices, bongs will continue to have a prominent place in our culture.

And now, the million-dollar question is: Where can you find a bong that embodies all of the features that you seek? Badass Glass has the best collection of high-quality bongs, dab rigs, bubblers, and other relevant accessories. Whether you're a pro or just starting, we have the perfect bong to make your smoking experience awesome. We've got all sorts of designs, from unique, detailed ones to eye-catching colors. 

Just like you, our bongs are one-of-a-kind. Check out our collection and find your perfect piece today!
Previous article Picking Your Perfect Glass Pipe: A Beginner's Guide
Next article Your Ultimate Guide to Buy a Weed Grinder