Published: 14:58, February 17, 2022 | Updated: 17:40, February 17, 2022
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'Fore' father of modern golf balls on display
By Xinhua

Some of the ceramic balls collected by Pingdingshan University. The relics, made of pottery or porcelain, are related to an ancient Chinese golf-like game called chuiwan in Chinese. (LI AN / XINHUA)

ZHENGZHOU-Pingdingshan University in Central China's Henan province has found more than 1,000 ceramic balls used in an ancient Chinese golf-like ballgame.

The university found them while sorting out its ceramic collection, also finding several ball molds and semifinished ceramic balls.

The relics are related to an ancient game called chuiwan in Chinese. It shares various features with modern golf, such as knocking balls into holes using sticks, and is thereby widely known as ancient "Chinese golf".

Most of the balls are about five centimeters in diameter and are made of pottery or porcelain. Some are decorated with dimples that parallel those on modern golf balls.

The relics can be dated back to as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907), with more than 1,800 such balls made during the Tang, Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties. They were mainly unearthed in the city's ancient porcelain-making kilns.

"This is the first time that China has found so many chuiwan balls, providing important reference materials for studying the origin and development of the ballgame," says Cui Lequan with a research institute of the sports culture development center, part of China's General Administration of Sport.

Located between the two ancient capitals of Luoyang and Kaifeng, the Pingdingshan area boasted a highly developed porcelain handicraft industry in ancient times. It was likely a large production base for chuiwan balls, says Cui.

Prevailing in the Yuan and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), chuiwan is believed to have originated from budaqiu, a polo-like game dating back to the Tang Dynasty.