A booming business on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 March, 1999, 12:00am

Fireworks and firecrackers have a long history on the mainland. As early as the Sui Dynasty (581- 618), the new year was celebrated to the crackling noise of exploding firecrackers.

The first firecrackers were made from sections of hollow bamboo, used to hold gunpowder. They were called bamboo firecrackers, but bamboo was later replaced by paper tubes.

Hunan province specialises in firecrackers and other fireworks products.

According to records, Hunan's Liuyang county first produced firecrackers in 1749. By the 1870s it had become big business.

In 1885 Liuyang began to export firecrackers to many countries, including Russia, Korea, Japan and India.

There are more than 400 types of fireworks produced in China. Among them are fireworks which spray bursts of colour and shoot off in spinning wheels and whirls. They have names such as Great Happiness, Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Ping Pong Festival, Seven Colour Lanterns, Spring Thunder, Flowers in Full Bloom and Herald of Joy.

Another device is shot into the air and 'parachutes' down to earth. Some of the fireworks produce multiple parachutes.