Interesting Facts and Records about Diabolo

Diabolo, also known as a juggling toy, is believed to be the oldest game in the world, dating back to the 4th-3rd millennium B.C. in China.

This circus skill involves a spool that is spun and manipulated by a player using a string attached to two sticks held in each hand. The player can change the speed at which the diabolo spins by adjusting the slack of the handsticks.

Tricks involve moving the diabolo with the handsticks, throwing it in the air, catching it, balancing it, and creating knots and loops with the string. Multiple diabolos can also be used at once.

Origins of Diabolo

The diabolo evolved from the Chinese yo-yo, with a long, thin axle and disc-shaped wheels. The modern diabolo was developed in 1906 by French engineer Gustave Philippart, using scrap metal and cut-out old tires.

The French Museum of Diabolo displays many historic diabolos, including Philippart’s creation. However, the diabolo originated in China, with some historians placing its invention in the 4th-3rd millennium B.C.

The Oldest Game in History?

The diabolo was made of wood or bamboo in ancient China, with many names such as “Kouen-gen” meaning “make the hollow bamboo stick whistle”. Some diabolos in China still have openings on the side that create a whistling sound when spun.

The term “diabolo” comes from the Greek “dia bollo” meaning “across throw”, coined by Gustave Philippart.

The Diabolo in French History

The diabolo was well-received by the French upper class and became popular as a fashionable object in the early 1800s. Clubs and competitions spread across Paris, and after Philippart’s invention, its popularity spread throughout France and Britain.

During World War I, the popularity of diabolo decreased but gained its former popularity later on.

Thanks to new materials and improved precision in fabrication, the diabolo has evolved to offer a wider range of tricks, styles, and uses. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, new types of diabolo were invented, including the bearing diabolo with a spinning axle that runs on ball bearings. This design enables the bearing diabolo to achieve and retain speed, making it easier to perform tricks like grinds and in-the-air moves. Contact diabolo is another newer style that involves manipulating the diabolo with different parts of the body instead of just sticks and string. It is gaining popularity with many tricks being adapted to suit this style. The diabolo has set many world records, including spinning it around the leg 117 times in one minute and throwing and catching it 16 times while it was 6 meters high. The largest diabolo ever made measured 1.3 meters in diameter. The most people tossing a diabolo at once is 223, achieved by Manor Field Primary School in Burgess Hill, UK.


1. What is diabolo and how does it work?

Diabolo is a toss juggling prop consisting of two cups connected by a spindle, which is usually played with two handsticks. The player throws the diabolo into the air and catches it again using the handsticks, while performing various tricks and stunts. The diabolo’s spinning motion creates an optical illusion and makes it seem like it’s defying gravity.

2. Who holds the world record for the most diabolo rotations?

The current world record for the most diabolo rotations is held by Taiwanese performer ChihHan Chao, who spun three diabolos simultaneously for a total of 10 minutes and 35 seconds in 2012. This impressive feat requires a lot of practice, skill, and hand-eye coordination.

3. Are there any other notable diabolo world records?

Yes, there are several other diabolo world records worth mentioning. French performer Tony Frebourg holds the record for the most diabolo high throws in one minute, with a total of 102 catches. Meanwhile, Chinese performer Zhang Hao holds the record for the most diabolo suns in one minute, with a total of 67 catches.

4. Is diabolo a popular sport or hobby?

Diabolo is a popular leisure activity and art form in many parts of the world, particularly in Asia and Europe. There are various diabolo festivals, competitions, and workshops held annually, where enthusiasts can learn new tricks, showcase their skills, and connect with other diabolo players.

5. What are some benefits of playing diabolo?

Playing diabolo is not only fun and entertaining, but it also has several benefits for physical and mental health. It can improve hand-eye coordination, concentration, and agility, as well as relieve stress and boost creativity. Additionally, diabolo is a low-impact activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.

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