An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Cujupu 蹴踘譜

Aug 31, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Cujupu 蹴踘譜, also written 蹴鞠譜, is a book on kick-ball written by Wang Yuncheng 汪雲程 (c. 1506-c. 1576).

Although the kick-ball game is said to have been invented by the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di 黃帝), it is first mentioned in the history book Zhanguoce, saying that the people of the rich regional state of Qi 齊 used to play this game. During the Han period, kick-ball was used as a peace-time kind of training and leisure time activity for soldiers. The earliest text on kick-ball are therefore listed among bibliographical entries on military treatises (Bingshu 兵書). The Han-period bibliographer Liu Xin, author of the book catalogue Bielu, also describes the appearance of a playing ground, with staircase and ramp for the imperial on-lookers. When the emperor attended the game, teams were formed by members of the Yulin 羽林 palace guard. The poet Li You (50-130 CE) wrote a poem on kick-ball (Jucheng ming 鞠城銘) in which he mentions the many implements on or besides and parts of the play. Another early text on kick-ball is He Yan's (d. 249 CE) Jingfudian fu 景福殿賦.

Wang's text is based on earlier descriptions on the ball game, mainly the anonymous Yuan-period book Cuju tupu 蹴鞠圖譜.

Figure 1. Kickball ground and scene
The left drawing shows the kickball ground, with positions of the gate and the players. The right image shows a scene in which three persons train to keep a ball in the air.

The text is found in the series Shuofu 說郛 and Xuanlantang congshu 玄覽堂叢書.

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