Naghsh e Jahan the world's oldest polo field
The polo was played for the first time in Persia (Iran) on dates from the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD. Initially, Polo was a training game for cavalry units, usually guarding the king or other elite troops. From there, it spread to all of Persia and beyond. It is now popular worldwide, with more than 100 member countries of the International Polo Federation.
|Naghsh e Jahan the world's oldest polo field|
Polo (Chogan) Polo is as old as the history of Iran. dating back to 860 BCE. Polo and horse riding were favorite sports of kings, princes, and dignitaries as well as ordinary people. It was famous during the dynasties of the Arsacid, the Sassanid and even up to the Safavid and the Zand. It has been mentioned in numerous poems of many well-known poets such as Rudaki (858.941), Ferdowsi (940-1020). Khayyam (1048-1131). Nezami (disputed 1141-1209). Sa'di (1184-1283/1291), Jami (1414-1492) and Hafez (1325-1390). A lot has been recorded about this sport in the Shahnameh (Epic of Kings) by the poet Ferdowsi. According to this, it was Shapur II (309-379) who popularized polo during his youth. It is said that Khosrow Parviz the Sassanid also paid a lot of attention to polo. He had divided the days of the months into four parts, one for civil affairs, one for the army, one for sports and another for leisure. The first days were specifically for polo and shooting. There was always a famous master to teach the rules of the game to a king. In Qabusnameh (976-1012), a history book about the kings of the Ziyarid dynasty and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, polo is mentioned. The game of polo is recorded during the Seljuk period too. Nezami the poet especially mentions girls' horse riding and playing polo. An interesting little fact is that in the royal calendar of Malikshah the Seljuk (10721092), the 19th day of each month was called Polo-playing.
Many polo fields were established in Esfahan and Shiraz during the 16th to 18th centuries. The stone goal posts still exist in Naqsh-e Jahan Square. The size of the square was exactly designed for the game of polo. The popularity of polo was without doubt due to the Iranians love for horses. Some kings had their names linked with the word "Asb" meaning horse in Persian e.g. Tahmasb. Garshasb and many others.
|The stone gates of the polo field, remain from the Safavid period|
The game had two referees, there! were four players on each side, and the game was made up of eight rounds of seven or eight minutes named "Chooka". After each goal was scored, ends were exchanged. To score a goal, the 8-centimeter ball weighing roughly 150 grams had to enter the goal after being struck by a polo club. Polo was taken to India from Iran and had great progress there. There, the British learned it from the Indians and it spread throughout the world. In Iran. unfortunately, the game had lost its popularity by the end of the Zand reign and has never regained it.
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