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'Sport of kings' begins new reign of popularity

By Li Yingxue | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-21 07:52

A female terracotta figurine from the Tang Dynasty unearthed at the tomb of Wei Jiong in Chang'an county, Shaanxi province. CHINA DAILY

Family tradition

The 31-year-old postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and her parents, fell in love with the sport a couple of years ago. Wang took part in polo competitions during her PhD studies in history at the University of Hong Kong.

Polo, she says, is about the unity between rider and horse, and she believes that the sport integrates various elements familiar in other competitive activities, such as equestrianism, field hockey, ice hockey, golf and soccer.

"Polo is a sport in which male and female players can compete on the same field, which fully embodies the spirit of gender equality," she adds.

Wang cofounded the 1003 POLO club in Beijing in 2017 and, since then, has participated in several tournaments, both in China and abroad.

In September 2021, Wang and her mother Luan Yi published China's first bilingual (Chinese and English) Polo Rule Handbook.

Luan, who has two master's degrees from both Tsinghua University and Wake Forest University in the United States, is a trailblazing figure and was China's first female polo commentator. She has hosted and provided commentary for significant polo events across the country, and has earned the title of Best Commentator on multiple occasions.

Wang's father, Wang Guohua, who has a doctoral degree from Tianjin University and is a dedicated enthusiast, collector and advocate of polo history and culture, also worked on the book.

The trio wholeheartedly embrace and promote the sport and its culture.

In November 2019, Jackie Wang traveled to Argentina to watch the finals of the Argentine Open. During her time in Buenos Aires, she picked up Passion &Glory: A Century of Argentine Polo, a history of Argentine polo over the past century.

"After I returned, we read through the book together, and we had an idea — we should write a book about the history of polo in ancient China and the development of modern polo in the country," Jackie Wang says.

She started researching polo in ancient China, developing a better understanding of its history. From there, she decided to write the book with her parents.

Writing in the midst of the pandemic presented challenges. The family's initial impulse to publish gradually evolved into a passion, a responsibility, and eventually a mission, Jackie Wang says, adding that the time commitment went from the original 10 months to more than 36.

Obtaining authorization from institutions like world-renowned museums, archaeological organizations and private collections, was another major challenge. The photos contained in the book come from some 40 museums and cultural institutions around the world, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, the National Museum of China, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Guimet Museum in Paris.

More than just a history, the book is a visual narrative of polo's evolution. Through a timeline, it gives an overview of the history of polo in ancient China and its dynamic development in the modern era, differentiating between the two eras by using distinct typography.

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