The Chinese had long sought to make themselves immortal and they put much effort into a discovery of that elusive goal.
Taoist sages believed that human beings were earthly deities; that they could cultivate their spirit, mind and bodies by Qinong. This "inner cultivation', they thought, could cause them to become supernatural beings that would bring about long life or ever attain eternal life.
Coupled with this pursuit was as early stage of chemistry called Alchemy. The alchemists thought that they could "refine the sand and base ore into gold and other magical medicine that would never rot.'' The 'outer refining' techniques of these alchemists sought to find the elixir of life.
Early in the Warring States (457 BC-221 BC) the alchemists presented the longevity medicine to Emperor Jing. In the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907 AD), alchemists had the support of the imperial court and religion. However, their importance diminished in the Song Dynasty (960-1271 AD) and disappeared altogether in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD).
Through the alchemical experiments of these early scientists, many chemical and medical discoveries were made. The invention of the compass and printing ink, two of the 'Four Great Inventions of China', emerged during this time.
Arguably, the most important contribution of this era was the discovery of gunpowder. Since its invention, gunpowder has been widely used in fields ranging from medicine to defense to entertainment. This began its use in the production of the very first fireworks.
There are many opinions about the time of the invention of fireworks. Some think they were developed in the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907 AD), but others insist there were no fireworks until the Northern Song Dynasty (Tenth Century AD). In the Southern Song Dynasty (Twelfth Century AD) there was rapid development.