Page:Pyrotechnics the history and art of firework making (1922).djvu/33

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Gradually he gives up his hitherto necessary tasks of hunting and trapping, as he receives the fruits of other labours in return for his services as fire-maker to the tribe.

The most important item in early social life is fire, the implements for producing it the most valued property of the tribe; it was the focus of religion and the centre of daily existence, so that any new phenomenon connected with fire would be of the greatest interest to primitive people, and any short cut to the production of fire would be accorded more perseverance and care in its perfection than almost any other invention.

Fire would be struck with a piece of iron pyrites on a flint, small pieces of reguline particles of iron would be detached and fall on the fire mixture unlit. Afterwards, when combustion of the mass of fire mixture took place, these small pieces of metal would scintillate as do the iron filings in a modern firework composition. This would give rise to a further series of experiments, and gradually the composition known as Chinese Fire would be evolved, which is known to have been in use in the East from remote times.

Having arrived at a pyrotechnic composition, attempt to use it in other ways besides fire-making would naturally follow, and sooner or later the idea of filling the mixture into tubes would suggest itself, especially as both in India and China (in one of which countries pyrotechny undoubtedly originated) a serviceable tube—or to use the modern term "case"—was ready to hand in any size or quantity in the ubiquitous bamboo. The bamboo is in use for the purpose at the present day in the East, and until recent times, when displaced by European weapons, was used in the construction of ordnance of considerable size. Mortars used for throwing firework shell up to six or more inches in diameter are still in use in Japan and China, the barrel consisting of a section of