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see pyrotechnicspyrotechnics
, technology of making and using fireworks. Gunpowder was used in fireworks by the Chinese as early as the 9th cent., and it was they who brought fireworks to a high stage of development. The use of fireworks for display has spread throughout the world.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a decorative display of fire, produced by burning pyrotechnic compositions containing metal salts that color the flame. A firework display consists of fiery figures that change their color and shape in a fantastic manner. Such displays sometimes resemble a fountain of sparks and are often accompanied by sound effects, such as claps and blank shots. In English, the term “firework” means a device used to produce such a display.

The art of making fireworks was known in China and India several centuries before the Common Era. Italy was the first European country in which fireworks were made. Large-scale firework displays were put on in Vicenza, Italy, in 1379; in Augsburg, Germany, in 1519; in Warwick, England, in 1572; and in Fontainebleau, France, in 1606 and 1612. Fireworks, such as Bengal lights and skyrockets, were first manufactured in Japan in the 17th century and in Europe in the 18th century. In Russia, the first firework display was put on in the city of Velikii Ustiug in 1674.

A firework usually consists of a cardboard or plastic case, an ejection charge, a combustible powder, and small cylindrical or spherical masses of pyrotechnic composition called stars. Stars consist of oxidizers, salts that color the flames, and substances that serve as fuels and agglutinants. Ground fireworks are used to create such fiery figures as waterfalls, fountains, emblems, and slogans. The outlines of various pictorial, or lancework, pieces can be produced by igniting a large number of lances, or small cases of color composition, mounted on wooden or metallic frames.


Solodovnikov, V. M. Pirotekhnika: Proizvodstvo i szhiganie feierverka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938.
Shidlovskii, A., A. Sidorov, and V. Antonov. “Iskusstvo upravleniia ognem.” Nauka i zhizn’, 1971, no. 6.
Fireworks. New York, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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