Polo Week: Luminous Balls and Bonds of Friendship

“Superficial observers regard the game as a mere amusement, and consider it mere play, but men of more exalted views see in it a means of learning promptitude and decision. Strong men learn, in playing the game, the art of riding, and the animals learn to perform feats of agility and to obey the reins. It tests the value of a man and strengthens bonds of friendship. Hence His Majesty is very fond of this game.”

From Abu I-Fazl Allami’s The Institutes of Akbar or Ain i Akbari (1590). Allami was adviser to the third Mughal emperor, Akbar, who used to play polo at night with luminous balls made of palas tree wood.

Quoted in “From Iran to All of Asia: The Origin and Diffusion of Polo,” by H E Chehabi and Allen Guttmann in Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 19, June–September 2002.

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