The Museum of Juggling


Juggling has been part of many cultures all over the world. Sometimes it is part of a religious festival, sometimes it is a children's game, and sometimes it is done for pure entertainment. Here are some articles about juggling in different countries.

General - Truzzi
Female juggler on Greek vase Marcello Truzzi's paper "On Keeping Things Up in the Air" from Natural History Vol. 88 No. 10, December 1979, begins with a good general survey of juggling in various cultures, and has some interesting early accounts of juggling among the Pacific islanders and elsewhere.

General - Lewbel
Arthur Lewbel's paper "Research in Juggling History" is another general survey of pre-vaudeville references to juggling, and contains a useful bibliography.

Ancient Egypt
The earliest representation of juggling is in Egyptian tomb paintings from about 4,000 years ago. This article by Billy Gillen from Juggler's World Volume 38, No. 2 discusses the most famous of these paintings, from Beni Hassan.


Ancient China
From Juggler's World Volume 39, No. 1 come these quotes about ancient Chinese jugglers.

The Flying Boards
In 1986 Dai Shucheng from China came to the IJA convention in San Jose and demonstrated his juggling of wooden boards which spun and returned to him like boomerangs. This article is from Juggler's World Vol. 38, No. 3.

There are two traditional forms of juggling in Japan: otedama, literally "hand ball", a toss juggling game played by girls, and daikagura, literally "the greater amusement of the gods", a style of object manipulation which has its origins in temple festivals.

Otedama Home Page
The Japanese otedama convention is one of the largest juggling festivals in the world. This wonderful page is devoted to otedama. It's mostly in Japanese, but it's worth exploring for the wonderful photographs of ojami (beanbags) which look like people, fish, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Don't miss the World Otedama Map.

Otedama - A Fading Japanese Juggling Tradition
Here's an article on otedama by Ed Henderson and Poof Magoo from Juggler's World Volume 43, No. 4.

Masaki Nishikawa posted to rec.juggling about daikagura and some of the differences between Chinese and Japanese juggling.


Tongan Juggling Songs
In Tonga, juggling tui-tui nuts in a shower pattern was a traditional game for little girls. A seven nut shower has been recorded on film and there are unconfirmed rumours of women juggling higher numbers. Here's a first hand account from Barry Friedman of meeting some juggling Tongans. Barry also recorded some traditional Tongan juggling songs that you can hear.

The Juggling Girls of Tonga
Travel writer Steve Cohen went to Tonga to find out why the girls there all juggle. This is the story of his visit, and the Tongan legend he he unearthed.


In 1828, William Hazlitt was most impressed by the skill of an Indian juggler, perhaps Ramo Samee or one of his family. He wrote this essay which compares success in motor skills with success in the arts.

An Indian Street Juggler
In 1982, another Indian Juggler in London was interviewed for Juggler's World.

Juggling has long been a part of Jewish culture, as described in the Jewish Jugglers Home Page. Of particular interest is the article on Juggling in Ancient Jewish Sources including a description of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel who according to the Talmud juggled eight flaming torches.

North America

Native American
Juggling games appear to have been common among Native Americans, often accompanied by gambling. This report is from Games of the North American Indians by Stewart Culin, published in 1907.

European American
This Primer on the History of American Juggling covers the history of juggling in the USA from the first American circus through the Vaudeville era.

The Inuit word for "juggles" is iglukisaaktuk and pebbles used for juggling are iglukisaaksrak. In this article from Juggler's World, Jim Kerr tells us of Juggling in Alaska as an historic native American pastime.

The Museum of Juggling is maintained for the Juggling Information Service by Andrew Conway.

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