The polo game which is played on horseback using a ball and a mallet seems to be invented by the Scythians of Central Asia as early as 500 BC. The game soon was assimilated by the Persians who used it as a way to train their cavalry for battle. In fact, the warlike tribesmen played the polo game as a miniature battle.
In a recent TV program about the
Silk Road, Alfred de
Montesquiou, a French reporter and war correspondent, mentioned an interesting legend
on the subject. The story goes that King
Darius gave Alexander the Great such
a ball and mallet with the intention to treat him as a mere boy, “here is a
ball, so play!” But Alexander thanked
him with the wise observation that the ball was the earth and the mallet represented
himself, meaning that he was the master of the world!
This story may well come from one of the many versions of the Alexander Romance, who knows?
In time, polo was played in
by men as well as women and notably by the nobility. King Khosrow II (reigned 590-628 AD) and his courtiers are known to
have played Polo just like the queen and her ladies. Persia
the game spread to Arabia and the Muslims, in turn, introduced it to in the 13th
century. Who would have thought that the polo game could boast such a long
[Top left picture: A Persian miniature made in 1546, during the reign of the Safavid dynasty of Iran(1501-1722). This artwork is of the Persian poem Guy-o Chawgân (“Ball and Polo-mallet”) depicting Iranian nobles engaged in the game of polo (Picture Source: Public Domain).]