From Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org
Polo (also known as Cho-gan) is a team game played on a field
with one goal for each team. Each team has three (enclosed arena)
or four (full sized grass field) players. Polo features successive
periods called "chukkas", and riders score by driving a ball into
the opposing team's goal using a long-handled mallet. In this it
is similar to many team sports such as football and field hockey.
The main difference is that the players play on horseback
Polo is arguably one of the most complex of games in the world.
The History of Polo
The precise origin of polo is obscure and undocumented and there
is ample evidence of the game's place in the history of Asia. No
one knows where or when stick first met ball after the horse was
domesticated by the ancient Iranian (Aryan) tribes of Central
Asia before their migration to Iranian plateau; but it seems
likely that as the use of light cavalry spread throughout Iranian
plateau, Asia Minor, China and the Indian subcontinent, so did
this rugged game on horseback.
However, many scholars believe that polo originated among the
Iranian tribes sometime before Darius the Great (521–485 BC) and
his cavalry forged the Second Iranian Empire, the Achaemenid
dynasty. Certainly it is Persian literature and art that give us
the richest accounts of polo in antiquity. The first recorded
polo match occurred in roughly 600 BC between the Turkomans and
Persian, with victory going to the Turkomans.
Ferdowsi, the most famous of Iranian poet-historian, gives a
number of later accounts of royal polo tournaments in his 9th
century epic, Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings). Some believe that
the Chinese (the Mongols) were the first to try their hands at
the game, but in the earliest account, Ferdowsi romanticizes an
international match between Turanian force and the followers of
Siyâvash, a legendary Persian prince from the earliest centuries
of the Empire. The poet is eloquent in his praise of Siyâvash's
skills on the polo field. Ferdowsi also tells of Emperor
Sâpour-II of Sasanian dynasty of the 4th Century AD, who learned
to play polo when he was only seven years old.
Polo was also popular among other nations, including China, where
it was the royal pastime for many centuries. The Chinese most
probably learned the game from the Iranian nobles who sought
refuge in Chinese courts after the invasion of the Iranian Empire
by the Arabs, or possibly by some Indian tribes who were taught
by the Iranians. The polo stick appears on Chinese royal coats of
arms and the game was part of the court life in the golden age of
Chinese classical culture under Ming-Hung, the Radiant Emperor,
who as an enthusiastic patron of equestrian activities.
For more than 20 centuries polo remained a favorite of the
rulers of Asia, who played the game or were its patrons. Their
Queens played, as did the nobility and the mounted warriors.
Polo for non-Iranians was the nearest equivalent to a national
sport in those times, from Japan to Egypt, from India to the
Byzantine Empire. As the great Eastern empires collapsed,
however, so disappeared the glittering court life of which polo
was so important a part, and the game itself was preserved only
in remote villages.
Polo's introduction to the Occident
Polo came to the west via Manipur, a northeastern state in India.
The Guinness Book of Records in its 1991 edition (page 288)
traces the origins of the game to Manipur, circa 3100 BC, where
it was known as Sagol Kangjei. According to historical accounts,
one British government official stationed in Manipur (then a
princely state) during the late 19th century wrote an account of
the sport, and thus its popularity spread.
As further proof, it is recorded during the House of Lords debate
on Juvraj Tikendrajit's trial on 22nd June 1891, the Marquess of
Ripon said about Manipur "it is a small State (Manipur), probably
until these events took place very little known to your
Lordships, unless, indeed, some of you may have heard of it as
the birth place of the Game of Polo."
The 10th Hussars at Aldershot, Hants, introduced polo to England,
in 1869 after reading an account of the game in The Field
magazine. The game's governing body in the United Kingdom is the
Hurlingham Polo Association, which drew up the first set of
formal British rules in 1874, many of which are still in
The sport became popular amongst European nobility, but during
the early part of the 20th century, under the leadership of Harry
Payne Whitney, polo changed to become a high-speed sport in the
United States, differing from the game in England, where it
involved short passes to move the ball toward the opposition's
goal. Whitney and his teammates used the fast break, sending long
passes downfield to riders who had broken away from the pack at a
Polo, the Contemporary Sport
Polo is now an active sport in 77 countries, and although its
tenure as an Olympic sport was limited to 1900–1939, in 1998 the
International Olympic Committee recognized it as a sport with a
bona fide international governing body, the Federation of
Polo is, however, played professionally in only a few countries,
notably Argentina, England, India, and the United States.
Argentina dominates the professional sport, its polo team has
been the uninterrupted world champion since 1949 and is today the
source of most of the world's 10 goal (i.e., top-rated) players.
It is also the source of the Raza Polo Argentino, the only
purpose-bred polo pony in general international demand. In the
world of polo, Argentina's Heguy family, are to polo what the
Barrymore family is to acting.
The U.S. is unique in possessing a professional women's polo
league, the United States Women's Polo Federation, which was
founded in 2000. The sixteen-team league plays across the
The modern sport has had difficulty grappling with the
traditional social and economic exclusivity associated with a
game that is inevitably expensive when played at a serious level.
On the one hand, many polo athletes genuinely desire to expand
broad public participation in the sport, both as an end in itself
and to increase the standard of play. On the other hand, many
members of polo clubs, particularly social or non-playing
members, are attracted to the sport precisely because of its aura
of wealth and its remove from ordinary people.
Nevertheless, the popularity of polo has grown steadily since the
1980s, and its future appears to have been greatly strengthened
by its return as a varsity sport at universities across the
Notable international polo players:
Alberto Pedro Heguy, Sr.
Horacio A. Heguy
Ignacio "Nachi" Heguy
Harry Payne Whitney
Rules of Polo
Polo is played by two teams of players mounted on horseback. When
playing outdoors each team has four players, while arena polo is
restricted to three players per team. The field is 300 yards
long, and either 160 yards or 200 yards wide. There is a goal on
either end of the field. The object of the game is to score the
most goals by hitting the ball through the goal.
Game is divided into periods, called chukkas, of 7 minutes, and
depending on the rules of the particular tournament or league, a
game may have 4, 6 or 8 chukkas. Games are often played with a
handicap in which the sum of the individual players' handicaps
are compared to each other, and the team with the worse handicap
is given a few goals before the start of the game.
Other facts about polo
The oldest royal polo square is the 16th century Maidan-Shah in
The oldest polo club in the world still in existence is the
Calcutta Polo Club (1862).
The highest polo ground in the world is on the Shandur Pass at
3,700 meters (12,000 ft). It is only used during the 2nd week of
July for a traditional tournament between teams from Chitral and
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