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Embryonic Forms of Primitive Sports

2003-11-16 11:14 COC

    Among the multitude of fairy tales told by the ancient Chinese, there were moving stories like those about "King Yi Shooting Down Nine Suns" and "Kua Fu Chasing the Sun". Such fairy tales reflect not only our ancestors' fond dreams but also their confidence and fortitude in developing bodily skills for the purpose of conquering nature.

    The large numbers of stone balls unearthed in Yanggao County, Shanxi Province, were used as hunting tools by primitive men in the Paleolithic age some 100,000 years ago. The movements of the hunter's legs, arms and hands in his productive labour may be said to be the earliest forms of sport in human society.

    A pottery basin unearthed in Datong County of Qinghai Province, which dates back 4,000 to 10,000 years, has three groups of dancing figures painted on its inner wall. On an ancient stone carving in Cangyuan, Yunnan Province, dating back about 3,000 years, there are not only dancing figures but also pictures of runners and acrobats forming a pyramid. From these relics we an see that in the latter part of China's primitive society, primitive sports were gradually breaking away from productive labour to merge with recreational and health activities. This marked a big step forward in the development of sports in ancient China.

    A game called jirang (literally, "hitting the soil"), which is recorded in ancient books, was popular some four of five thousand years ago. A kind of throwing exercise in which a player had to hit a target on the ground 20 to 30 steps away to win a point, it could be called a competitive sport in its embryonic form.