#史史开话# There were many different ball games in ancient China, including football. Ancient football is called cuju and its origins can be traced back to Warring States period (475 BC to 221 BC).
According to historical records, Cuju was originally developed as a military training program. Later, Kuju gradually developed into a popular pastime, not only popular among court and nobility, but also widespread among common people. During Tang Dynasty (618–907), Kuju became an official competition that involved scholars, officials, and even emperors both inside and outside court.
Cuju has strict rules. The site is rectangular, with tall buildings at each end. Each team has eleven players and they play with their feet. During game, players need to control and pass ball in various ways, such as using their feet, knees, shoulders, etc., and can also use their heads to hit ball with their heads. A goal is scored by kicking ball into opponent's goal or through opponent's goal while crossing line between two posts. Games also have referees and assistants to ensure fair play.
Cuju has had a profound impact on Chinese history. This is not only a sport, but also a reflection of culture and thought of that time. For example, Bai Juyi, a poet of Tang Dynasty, once wrote in a poem: “The reflection of a building falls into a pond, a crystal curtain shakes breeze to cool, a few early songbirds compete for warm trees, whose new swallows peck at spring wall, and occasional flowers gradually become charming. Only then can Asakusa disappear. Horseshoe, I love absence of travel to east of lake, and snow-white embankment in shade of green poplars, Kuju went out and suffered evil, and suddenly went to Yamen without incident.” One can see how popular and important Kuju was in society at that time.
In addition to cuju, there were many other forms of ball games played in ancient China. For example, during Northern and Southern Dynasties (420–589), there was a ball game called qiu. The ball is usually made of silk or leather and is relatively small and heavy. Players need to hit and catch ball with a club or palm, as in modern tennis and table tennis.
Another ancient ball game is "shocking with shuttlecocks" (tī jiànzi). This is a small cloth ball that players have to kick while keeping shuttlecock on ground. This activity was very popular during Tang Dynasty, not only as entertainment, but also as a means of training body and skills.
Ancient ball games are popular among people, and there are different variations and ways of playing in different regions. Apart from kicking cuju, shuttlecock and shuttlecock, there are also some games similar to badminton and sandbag throwing. These ball games not only exercise people's body and skills, but also show the unique charm of ancient Chinese culture. There are people who still inherit and develop these traditional ball games.
In ancient China, ball games were not only a means of entertainment and exercise, but also had a symbolic and ceremonial meaning.
For example, Emperors of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) used to hold "Ceremony of Shuttlecock" every year in front of Hall of Supreme Harmony to demonstrate country's stability and prosperity. This ceremony was still maintained during Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and became traditional in court.
In addition, some traditional holidays in ancient China were also associated with ball games. For example, on seventh day of seventh lunar month, Qixi Festival, one of traditional ways of celebrating is to kick shuttlecock. This form of celebration is meant to be a prayer for happiness, unity and harmony.
In general, ball games in ancient China are rich and varied, not only provide people with a way of entertainment and exercise, but also include rituals of ancient Chinese culture and traditions.
These activities have survived to this day and have become one of unique charms of Chinese culture.
October 28, 2023