Chinese Fireworks History

- Aug 03, 2018-

Regarding the origin of fireworks, the famous British scholar Joseph Needham said in his "The History of Chinese Science and Technology" that he said: "No one has ever written an accurate history about Chinese fireworks." As a folk skill, it is difficult to find detailed and detailed. As recorded, the more early the date, the more rumors can be traced back to some vague and eloquent rumors.


Jiangxi Wanzhai, Shangli,Hunan Liuyang, Liling, and other places in the hometown of fireworks, are enshrined in a "fireworks ancestor", named Li Tian. It is said that Li Tian was a person from Yuanzhou Prefecture (now Yichun City) in the Jiangnan West Road of the Tang Dynasty. He was the inventor of the fireworks and created a book. In the book he recorded a vivid and detailed Firecracker Demon story.

After verifying the historical data, he found that the Li Tian was not a Tang Dynasty, nor was he a Yuanzhou government official, but a member of the Song Dynasty. But folk legends tend to reflect the most simple feelings of the people. The ancient Yichun and Liuyang areas have been an important production area for fireworks since ancient times. The specific generation of Li Tian is not important to the local people who rely on technology to live. He has become an important part of folk beliefs and has become a symbol of the wisdom and wisdom of the ancient ancestors.


Similar to the era of Li Tian’s life, the records of fireworks in various notes and history books were also formed in the Song Dynasty. As is known to all, the Song Dynasty was an era of culturally very populous people. With the ultimate growth of the civic class, the folk art forms that satisfy the daily entertainment life of the general public are rejuvenating, and the artistic performances in the corrugated and hooked columns are blue. The name of the Daxiangguo Temple, and the storytelling section in the teahouse, together outline the spirit of that era.

The most fascinating thing for us is probably the annual Yuan Festival. I often look for the clues about the Shangyuan Festival in the notes of the Song people. It is said that on that night, the Emperor Xuan and the Emperor, who is the emperor of the heavens, will come to the scene to have fun with the people. On the Grand Place outside Xuandemen, a temporary grand theater was set up – the spines, artists from all over the country, whether they are flying pills, walking, squatting, throwing swords, will come to Bianjing before Shangyuan. The show that is performed in all places and the highest voices of the masses is eligible to be on the stage of supremacy. In the "Golden Missing" statement -

"Today's rivers and lakes are selling art, people are crowded with people;


In this crowd of people and the country, we can imagine the grand occasion of that time. In such a lively festival, fireworks have never been absent. In the famous "Tianjin Menghua" of the monks of the Northern Song Dynasty, there was recorded a series of military dramas during the emperor's imperial driving, and from the "flags", "burst sticks", "hug", "hard ghosts", "dance judgment" "Mute drama", "Seven holy knives" and "Shelter" all the way down, the scenes are varied and varied, all relying on the flexible use of gunpowder.

If the use of fireworks in the Northern Song Dynasty is only a "new technology" used in the performance of the transition, in the Southern Song Dynasty, the fireworks can finally be called fireworks. In the Southern Song Dynasty, Zhan Wuyi had a "Bianqiaoxian", specializing in the beauty of this fireworks -

"The turtles spit fire, the cranes are in flames. The medicine line and the rounds are on fire. Ten wins and one bucket of seven-star blankets, one on the shelf, there are many packages. ◎ Pear blossoms, several apricot flowers. Open again There are a few peony. You will be arrogant on the spot, and you will have to teach and nod your head."

You see, these various "flowers" are competing for openness, how similar to our current fireworks show.

In the Yuan Dynasty, the form of fireworks became more and more developed, and the application in festivals became more and more exciting. The great calligrapher Zhao Mengfu once had a "Gift and Fireworks", vividly depicting the grand occasion at that time -

"The world is full of skill, and the refining of medicines is clear and the same. The catkins fly in the white, and the peach blossoms are full of red. They are as bright as stars, and they are like fire attacks. , do not fall to the east wind."

During this period, fireworks not only became more widely used in the local area, but even accompanied the history of the conquest of the Mongol Empire. Mr. Pan Jixing, a famous master of science and technology in China, once verified that there is a book on the "Equestrian War Strategy Encyclopedia" (about 1280 AD) in one of the four great Khanate countries of the Mongol Empire. It records the names of many fireworks. In addition to the usual names of "jasmine" and "white water lily", there is also a fireworks called "Chinese flower".

The Ming and Qing dynasties were an important period for the further prosperity of China's civic culture. Fireworks, as a popular and popular thing, went to great prosperity. The records of fireworks in the Ming and Qing Dynasties show that the fireworks at that time were not only more diverse, but also made great progress in technology. For example, the waterworks recorded in the "Jin Ping Mei" in the late Ming Dynasty, the craft level is extremely high.


Along with the advancement of technology, the form of fireworks performance was greatly enriched. At that time, the technicians were able to rely on a variety of fireworks and scenes to form a plot to form an amazing "fireworks show." The poet of the Ming Dynasty, Yu You, had a "Fireworks" that recorded the scene of the performance -

"The ceiling is open in countless months, and the five colors of clouds are around the platform. The land is suddenly stunned by the stars, and the air is flying in the rain. The anger hits the jade and turns the snow, and the golden wheel starts the thunder. Scattered, picking up and picking up the lights back."

Such wonderful performances have not been seen in our present day, and we can only imagine the beautiful scenes through the words in the literature. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci passed through Nanjing and witnessed the fireworks display held by Nanjing people to celebrate the January. This left a very deep impression on him, he wrote in the book:


“The Chinese like this kind of performance very much and regard it as the main program of their celebration. Their technique of making fireworks is really good. There is almost nothing they can't imitate with fireworks. They are especially good at recreating war scenes. And making rotating fireballs, fire trees, fruits, etc., they seem to spend a lot of money on the fireworks. On this occasion, I estimate that they consume the gunpowder enough to sustain a war of considerable scale for several years. Long."

However, such a large-scale performance, the people's financial resources are simply difficult to support, after all, based on official organizations. Until the middle and late Qing Dynasty, with the gradual decline of the fireworks display of the court, the activities of the folk fireworks finally began to flourish. In order to solve the fire problem, the Qing government even issued some bans on the suppression of fireworks and firecrackers. This can also reflect the enthusiasm of the people at the time for fireworks from one side.

In such a social environment, fireworks have become the lifeblood of the local economy. Take Wanzhan County as an example. During the Qing Daoguang years, the 10,000-year-old fireworks had the reputation of “passing north and south, merchants and enthusiasm”. During the Guangxu period, “the size of the men’s women was all funded.” Since then, the locals have relied on this craft to make a fortune. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the fireworks industry was sold overseas and became a local pillar industry.


It can be said that the history of a fireworks is a history of the development of ancient Chinese civic culture, which collectively represents the ingenuity and superb technical level of the working people of China since the Tang and Song Dynasties. On top of the fireworks, in addition to pure aesthetic value, it also represents the cultural tastes and lifestyles of the Chinese only.

From Wan Zai to Liu Yang, people’s sacrifices to Li Wei are still incessant. In ancient times, it was known as the “hometown of fireworks” in Jiangxi and Hunan. People still have a passion for this time-honored art form. Fireworks not only raises the water and soil of one side, but also gives this party a water and soil with an immortal context.