In the next weeks, as we lead up to our event on Majorca where we host a polo tournament, we will share some of this rich sporting history with you via an article series.
In our first article of our series we’ll introduce you about the origins and history of the polo game. Next week we’ll give you an overview of the rules. In the last article, we’ll wrap up the modern aspects of the sport, equipment and some notable players to look out for on the field.
Finding the exact starting point of polo is a little difficult. Various cultures claim to have originated the sport, among others China, India and Persia. The earliest recorded dates range from 5th Century BCE to the 1st Century AD. The highest volume of early recordings is in the Tang Dynasty China, where it was originally a training game for cavalry units. Iran is credited with evolving it into a sport for the nobility, where women played alongside men. You can find traces of the sport in romantic poetry from the region around 6th Century AD.. When you delve into the Polo history books, you see it as a staple during the Byzantines and passing into North Africa with recordings of polo in Egypt even. Regardless of the country and timing during these ages, the notable consistency is that it was heralded as a noble sport where Sultans met on the field.
Polo spread to India and it revived as a training exercise for cavalry in Constantinople., The sport crossed the ocean to Japan by the middle ages. This is where polo got it’s modern identity; known formally in the East as “The Sport of Kings”.
Polo, as we know it today, was mostly developed by the British in India. The first recorded Polo club was in Assam in 1834, which had its own polo ground as well. During this time, influence of field hockey can be found in some of the rules and techniques.
The rules of the polo that was played during this time was with seven players a side They rode a type of pony which was only 130cm high (on average). There were no goal posts. Hitting the ball out of the end of your enemy’s field made the scores.
The gap between royalty and “commoner” became narrower on the field, as anyone could play the game as long as they owned a pony.
In 1862, the first Calcutta Polo Club was established by some British soldiers who were the main players responsible for bringing the sport over to England. It is since then that the Brits are credited with spreading the sport until the early 20th Century. The British formally codified the rules.,The governing body for polo is still the Hurlingham Polo Association in the United Kingdom. The governing body still has copies of the rules from 1874 l.
Have you been to Hurlingham to see the original rules?
Stay tuned for our next article which explains the rules of the game in the modern format.
You will find more information about our Polo Cup event on Majorca here: www.engelvoelkers.com/polocup