Tag Archives: Li Tian

The Invention of Fireworks

It is still unclear exactly when fireworks were first invented. Some think that fireworks first originated in China around 2,000 years ago. The most popular legend has it that fireworks were discovered by accident when a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen happened to mix charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter (which were all common kitchen items at the time). The mixture burned and when compressed in an enclosed space, exploded.

However, another school of thought places the discovery at some stage in the 9th century during the Song dynasty (960-1279), although this could easily be confusion over the discovery of gunpowder by the cook in the field kitchen and the invention of the firecracker.

Most often credited with the invention of firecrackers – about 1000 years ago – is a monk called Li Tian. He was from the city of Liuyang in Hunan Province, China. This area is still to this day the largest producer of fireworks anywhere in the world. During the Song Dynasty, a temple was built to worship Li Tian and the people of China still celebrate the invention of the firecracker every April 18th by offering sacrifices to Li Tian and setting off fireworks.

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