Diabolo, the Amazing Art

It is fairly difficult to know with precision when the diabolo was invented. Historians however agree that in China, where it was discovered, the game of diabolo has been practiced for more than 4000 years. In China today, like the first ones, diabolos are still made in bamboo, with openings on the side making it whistle while spinning. Diabolo, a game played with a sort of top in the shape of two cones joined at their apices, which is spun, thrown, and caught by means of a cord strung to two sticks. The idea of the game appears originally to have come from China, where a top, made of two hollow pierced cylinders of metal or wood, joined by a rod - and often of immense size, - was made by rotation to hum with a loud noise, and was used by peddlers to attract customers. For better control of the rolling diabolo, a player needs to learn how to breathe along with the movement and how to concentrate on the flying diabolo. Diabolo was introduced by missionaries to Europe; and a form of the game, known as "the devil on two sticks," appears to have been known in England towards the end of the 18th century. But its principal vogue was in France in 1812, where the top was called "le diable." The diable of those days resembled a globular wooden dumb-bell with a short waist, and the sonorous hum when spinning - the bruit du diable - was a pronounced feature. A French engineer, Gustave Phillipart, discovering some old implements of the game, had experimented for some time with new forms of top with a view to bringing it again into popularity; and having devised the double-cone shape, and added a miniature bicycle tire of rubber round the rims of the two ends of the double-cone, with other improvements, he named it "diabolo." The game of spinning, throwing and catching the diabolo was rapidly elaborated in various directions, both as an exercise of skill in doing tricks, and in "diabolo tennis" and other ways as an athletic pastime. Today, the vogue of playing diabolo still prevails, especially in northern part of China. It is not only an important part of traditional Chinese performing arts, but also a fashionable game among both children and adults.