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Fire-powered music and firework dragon, 1635.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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Engraving showing 'How to present musick playing, (by the help of fire), with anticks dancing' and below, the inner workings of one of master pyrotechnician John Babington's firework dragons. Fire comes from the dragon's eyes, mouth and anus. Firework displays have been widely used for celebrations in Europe since the 16th century. Elaborate pyrotechnic effects were often created and used in a theatrical setting. In 1635, Babington published a book from which this illustration comes, and which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised. This work, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', dealt with geometry and the use of fireworks for military purposes.
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