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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

Happiness spun from a Chinese yo-yo

By Weiwei Guan

January 17

The Chinese yo-yo, otherwise known as the Chinese diabolo, is a traditional Chinese toy which requires a lot training to play gracefully with.

The Chinese yo-yo, otherwise known as the Chinese diabolo, is a traditional Chinese toy which requires a lot training to play gracefully with.

The Chinese yo-yo, otherwise known as the Chinese diabolo, is a traditional Chinese toy which requires a lot training to play gracefully with. Traced all the way back to the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, it has a history of at least 600 years.

Chinese yo-yos were originally made of bamboo. They are round in shape, with a low-pitched sound chamber at its center and many smaller high-pitched sound chambers made from bamboo tubes. When they’re spinning, Chinese yo-yos make a delightful sound, providing a multi-sensory experience for observers.

Today, the Chinese yo-yo has evolved, and as more and more tricks are being thought up, it is coming in new shapes that facilitate them.

In 2006, the playing of the Chinese yo-yo was inscribed as one of the first items of China’s national intangible cultural heritage.

Li Lianyuan plays a Chinese yo-yo. He is an inheritor of national intangible cultural heritage and the head of the Beijing Chinese Yo-yo Museum. [Photo: China.org.cn]

Li Lianyuan, 70 years old, is an inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage and head of the Beijing Chinese Yo-yo Museum. He learned his Chinese yo-yo playing skills from his grandmother at the age of four and used them to attract potential customers to his family’s candy booth at a market in Beijing. He regards the sound of Chinese yo-yos as “the sound of happiness” and considers playing them to be a major source of joy in his life.

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