Historical Information Wanted:
I am particularly interested to learn which of the juggling/manipulation skills were being performed in 14th - 16th Century. It doesn't have to be performed in Europe between these dates but I would like to have some reference pictorial or otherwise that confirms dates.
So far I have confirmed:
Juggling balls (at least 1000BC)
Juggling knives (14th Century)
Ball on Parasol (15th Centruy)
Diabolo (pre 12th Century)
Staff (Roman or Chinese around 2nd Century)
I haven't confirmed:
Kendama (wikipedia dates introduction to Japan in 1777 so it predates that time in Europe)
Devil Stick (although these may be Han Dynasty)
Spinning Plates (although these may be Han Dynasty 200BC - 250AD)
Any other manipulation props
I will be grateful for any information that increases my knowledge.
Kendama wasn't invented until 1918. Its predecessor, the bilboquet, dates back to era you mention.
I went on the https://www.kendama.co.uk/ site and read this and then spent quite a while checking out bilboquet.
Also interested in where to purchase Bilboquet other than here:
or if I could get a number made by a local wood turner who would be interested in owning one if £10 or less.
As well as Bilboquet I'm also interested in buying traditional bamboo diabolo if anyone knows where they can be bought via the internet I would be extremely grateful if they were to let me know.
Would this https://bodley30.bodley.ox.ac.uk:8180/luna/servlet/detail/ODLodl~1~1~31487~107691:Lancelot-Cycle,-Branch-3-;jsessionid=93BEB6DCEEC13352316D8CB2D2B1B3D9?trs=9&mi=0&qvq=q%3Ajuggling%3Blc%3AODLodl~14~14%2CODLodl~1~1%2CODLodl~23~23%2CODLodl~24~24%2CODLodl~6~6%2CODLodl~7~7%2CODLodl~8~8
constitute proof of plate spinning I wonder. Dated early 14th Century.
Here are the earliest references I could find from 4000 Years of Juggling Volume I. There are probably earlier references for most of them somewhere.
Knives. 4000 YOJ V1. 347 AD. There are also several drawings shown from the middle ages.
Knives and lit torches were also used for juggling. Chrysostomus (347) saw the former in Antiochia being practised by a woman and the latter is described in Alciphron’s letters as follows: "...that your husband is friendly with the little Ionian ladies, who throw the balls and torches ..."
Rings. 4000 YOJ v1. 422 BC.
One can read in Xenophon's "Symposium" that a Syracrusanian troupe appeared at a banquet at the house of the rich Athenian Kallias (422 B.C.) which included a girl juggling with 12 rings whilst dancing.
Devil Stick. 4000 YOJ v1. 1828. Image of Carl Rappo on page 59.
Spinning plates. 4000 YOJ v1. 1770. Must be earlier than that?
An Englishman by the name of Price worked in 1770 in the very first circus according to Philip Astley holding a cane in each hand on which he spun plates while riding a horse.
Thank you Peter.
So rings date before 422BC but the description of juggling 12 rings whilst dancing seems somewhat unbelievable if performed in a standard fountain. This is often the case with historical descriptions and and/or pictures as the observer/painter is trying to portray their overall impression rather than factually verify what was done. She could e.g. be juggling 3 rings at a time but have 4 different sets of rings. However for my purpose the date is much more important than the number juggled.
I don't own 4000 Years but know that a large number of jugglingedge people do and was wondering who would be the first to mention it.
You should also wonder what exactly was meant by "juggling" by the original author (or the translator). Spinning the rings around the limbs might be more likely than air juggling, for example.
Again a very true point and impossible to now know if it is an author mistake rather than a translator mistake. However the fact that there were rings being manipulated before the 14th century is what really matters to me. If they were rings being spun around the body in the same way as hula hoop however that would be much more interesting as it would add another prop.
And after a little more research:
The ancient British enjoyed a battle game called "kill the hoop," in which participants hurled spears at a rolling wooden or metal hoop. By the 14th century, however, they were just as thrilled to spin the hoops around their waists. Which pastime was more dangerous? If historical records are any indication, the medieval British hoop craze resulted in dislocated backs and heart failure. Physicians of the day even issued a dire warning: "Hoops kill"
Panati, Charles. "Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things." Harper Paperbacks. 1990
I had read that reference about ring juggling in 4000 Years as well, but I would venture to guess it wasn't toss juggling as well. I believe that modern ring juggling started with hoop juggling by William Everhart. I've been trying to locate the earliest ring juggling using what we think of as rings. The earliest I can find is Willy Jaeger, Jenny Jaeger's father, jugging rings in 1900.
I've long been interested in finding the origin of ball spinning. Who was the first to spin an inflated ball on their finger? Rastelli generally balanced balls on his finger without spinning them, at least as far as I know. The only actually ball spinning I'm sure that Rastelli did was to spin a rugby ball on a mouthstick. Those who came after Rastelli did ball spinning, but I'd love to know who actually did it first.
The ancient British enjoyed a battle game called "kill the hoop," in which participants hurled spears at a rolling wooden or metal hoop
The Klingons call this game qa'vak.
I'd agree that the 12 rings mentioned for 422BC probably isn't toss juggling, but you didn't define juggling either.
Cigar Boxes. 4000 YOJ. 1868
The juggling act with 3 cigar boxes was first shown by an unnamed mimic clown in the German Circus Renz in around 1868 but his was in the form of 3 bricks.
I just found this history of club juggling. Sticks and knives were done a lot earlier but clubs are relatively recent.
Yes, I was going to link to that list by Breen as well. I believe cigar box juggling is based on wooden block juggling from Japan that goes back much further. There are some great articles about this, but they don't seem to be online.
I heard it was a Japanese prisoner. Instead of pillows they had a wooden block (this was normal for most people not just prisoners). A prisoner spent his time juggling them, he impressed the guards & was granted an audience with the Shogun(?) who was also impressed & granted him freedom.
But if that was the case why do we know them as cigar boxes rather than *Japanese word for wooden pillow* (枕? Makura? Void? Jemnezmy? Anyone? Bueller?)
Yes, because they're not a great trick to work on immediately after getting a genital piercing
If anyone can bring down a conversation from historical to genital it's LP!
Alberts were popularised by Albert Lucas but who knows who first performed them it certainly wasn't Mr Lucas.
I also had heard the cigar box / Japan link but I'm trying to find anything that actually confirms this rather than it being heresay.
It's late. I've spent way too much time today searching the internet for historical information that doesn't appear to be on the web and I make a spelling mistake. My juggling wasn't great today either.
Albert throws go back at least as far as Bobby May. I do have an article about the history of Japanese juggling and it does talk about the wooden block pillow origin of cigar boxes. It's not just hearsay.
I've seen several sources that credit Morris Cronin with inventing the "Albert" throw. Not sure how accurate that is, but it does seem clear that he did perform the trick. We discussed this on ##juggling irc channel the other day, and I've actually been induced by blood pact with another juggler to call "Albert" throws "Morris" throws and "Trebla" throws "Cronin" throws. At least till someone proves that he wasn't the inventor.
According to Yumi (genuine Japanese) & Simon (wannabe Japanese), it's a takamakura.
Takamakura appears to be a pillow on a block of wood. This doesn't seem to be an obvious juggling prop, in particular not a cigar box type object. At least as far as google images show this anyway.
Because jugglers learnt to juggle knives and fire long before they learnt to juggle the much easier and safer clubs!
I think I've seen a picture of a Chinese juggler using clubs but I'm not sure where. It was probably a link on rec.juggling years back. The link you've given is probably not very accurate in terms of first to do anything. I've read it before and find it quite hard to believe that Americans various were the only people being the first or breaking records when so much of juggling history involves Europe and Asia. The problem of course is finding the information from an authentic source.
I don't have time to go dig it out tonight, but Vol1 of 4KY has some info in it about chinese jugglers juggling sticks with a ball on the end (rather similar to what Lottie Brunn juggled), which are probably as close to "clubs" as you're going to get - at least until the invention of indian/swinging clubs and the first westerner to juggle 3 of those.
The shape of a club similar to a juggling club was around in medieval times but used in tournament ground fighting as a means of tiring out and essentially beating up men in armour. Anyone who has attended an English Heritage joust in the last 10 years will have seen this form of fighting.
Similarly, the indian clubs that became swinging clubs came from sailors belaying pins (which were also extremely big and heavy).
It's not beyond the realms of comprehension that someone tried to juggle something club like in medieval times. The problem is lack of historical records and the somewhat secretive nature of performers.
I'd also like to know when Russian style circus clubs first made an appearance.
I believe thta Russian style clubs were based on clubs made and used by the Bremlov family.
Presumably meaning those with multi-faced bodies, as opposed to the standard smooth-curved bodies.
Was fascinated by this snippet of information (not sure of validity but there are several sources quoting this on the web):
Devil sticks got their name from the Greek word diaballein which roughly means to throw across. Devil sticks have been used at different times in a number of places, including India, China (where they're still used in military displays), and by the Cherokees in North America. The oldest known set of devil sticks where found in Egypt, and are roughly 4,500-6,000 years old.
i know it´s 3 years later but the thread just appeared on google while researching for an article and devilstick history is just irresistable especially if i believe theres something wrong with it.
the greek "diabolo" theorie is unlikely. (the name devilstick hasn´t appeared prior to 1900 were it came up in american vaudeville). i have a theorie that there was a part in archie onris comedy routine that makes sense out of the devil connection but thats just another highly speculative guess. from 1820 to 1852 it has usually been announced as indian/chinese stick play as far as i know
if there are sources on china military displays and cherokees but especially for the old set found in egypt i would be super interested in that.
You need to make a few specifications.
- Clubs or juggling clubs? what are we talking about here? hollow clubs? clubs specifically made for juggling? Please state a bit clearer what it is the you are after.
- Cigar boxes is only a decoration, that was put on a wooden block to match the character of Harrigan. Is that what you are requesting?
- Juggling rings. Do you mean any circular object with a hole in the middle? or do you mean something specific such as a flat rimmed ring?
- Juggling balls. Beanbags included?
Great that this is being discussed. All you have seem fine, but the ball on parasol date seems early to me. What is your source on that?
This is all 3 years ago so I don't remember all the sources but it was all internet based research. I did have all the links on my old computer but that died and I didn't transfer that over. A did look at a lot of the pictures that people had posted on here or rec.juggling that had come from reputable academic sources.
For me, ball on parasol seems quite a late date as parasols have been around much longer and so have balls.
My initial question was to find earliest recorded instances of each type of prop so for example I don't care whether they are juggling with hoops or rings just as long as I can confirm that they were doing that type of juggling. Likewise whether it is called a cigar box or whether it is called whichever the Chinese name was in the time of the Han dynasty is irrelevant. As a more concrete example, if I know people were juggling with fire in 1 AD (Chinese juggler posted on jugglingedge), I don't care that people were juggling clubs in 1910 AD or whenever it was because the skill set is the same and you don't learn to juggle fire before juggling without fire. I do however care that they were juggling knives in 1350 AD (UK woodcut image) because although the skill set is the same the prop is interesting in itself.
It blasts the topic "history of juggling", but in matters of "earliest archaic origins of juggling", I saw an Orang-Utan in a doku who, let nuts (coco? as big as a baseball anyway) roll from his shoulder to catch them - with hand crossing, i think - on height of his chest or belly. He did that on both shoulders. Alas, couldn't find it again later and not remember the doku's name. First contact juggler thus need be investigated among our apelike forefathers lol.
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