Chinese Yo-Yo : Diabolo

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Wednesday, 12 August 2009
The Chinese yo-yo (扯鈴 : chě líng) is a toy from China found dating back to the Ming dynasty; roughly 1386-1644 A.D. The Chinese yo-yo consists of two equally-sized discs connected with a long axle. It is kept spinning on a string tied to two sticks at either end. Each stick is held in one hand, and the yo-yo spins on the string inbetween.

In modern times, it is more commonly used as a children's toy and as a performance tool in juggling and sometimes in Chinese ethnic dance. It is possible to perform a large variety of tricks with the Chinese yo-yo which can be as easy as throwing the yo-yo up into the air or tossing it around the user's back.

The Chinese yo-yo has travelled around the world and even adapted to become a craze in the West, where it is called a diabolo in the UK and US and is commonly misspelled as diablo.

The diabolo is usually made of a rubbery plastic and is fairly flexible as opposed to its Chinese counterpart which was traditionally bamboo (although this made complex tricks difficult as it was so fragile) though more recently it's adapted a hard grooved plastic, much harder than we are used to with diabolos.

Aside the material, there are two main differences between the Chinese yo-yo and the diabolo. Firstly, the axle of the Chinese yo-yo is much longer than that of the diabolo. And secondly, the Chinese yo-yo has wheel-shaped discs, whereas the diabolo consists of two bell-shapes.

Some circus acts have adapted Chinese yo-yo within routines, Cirque du Soleil in their show Quidam had four young girls performing the Chinese yo-yo, incorporating backflips, dance and choreographed synchronisation of multiple Chinese yoyos. Culminating in the four young ladies clad in futuristic, silver-metallic dresses twirling them through the air while the acrobats themselves perform flips. I include a video of them performing from that show.

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  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. There's another ancient Chinese toy called 踺子.
    I don't even know its English name...

    Have a look...



    that is interesting. looks like a fluffier and lighter version of this.


  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. Ha ha.... Similar technique!
    Bit like football tricks.

    踺子is very popular in China.


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