When we think of juggling now, we are often thinking of modern circuses. We think of a variety of acrobats juggling an even bigger variety of objects like balls, rings, and fire. However, you might ask yourself, who invented juggling, and where did juggling originate? In this blog we will explore the history of juggling and its colourful roots and meanings.

Juggling in the Ancient Times

It is unclear where exactly juggling originates from. Juggling has a long and eclectic history which reaches as far back as Ancient Egypt, and has really hardly changed at all. The oldest-known depiction of juggling was found in tombs from the middle-kingdom of ancient Egyptian civilisation, or around 2000 B.C.

This also makes it difficult to interpret who invented juggling. Although we can find much evidence to prove the existence of juggling during these times, it is hard to piece together these fragments and make certain answers.

This tomb shows female dancers and acrobats juggling one, two, and three balls, with one even juggling with her arms crossed! In the Beni Hasan cemetery – a graveyard for Ancient Egyptians – another depiction of juggling can be found: this one shows four girls playing a juggling game which is believed to have been very popular at the time.

Related: Learn How to Juggle with a Variety of Objects

Illustration from “Illustrerad verldshistoria utgifven av E. Wallis. band I”: Egyptian women, playing with ball.

 

There is also archaeological evidence to show that juggling existed in Ancient Greek and Roman cultures too. In Greece, jugglers (both male and female) were common all over. They set up booths to show their tricks and make money. This shows that juggling was both a recreational activity during this period, but also a profession wherein people could earn a living.

Juggling in the Renaissance Period

Jugglers first appeared as a top act in the circus in England in 1768. This indicates a shift from juggling as a form of personal recreation to a form of entertainment that people could watch. In fact, during this period, juggles were often hired to provide entertainment during intermissions in theatres and playhouses.

Juggling in the Modern Period

With the invention of television and films, attendance at the theatre and at circuses declined. In addition, momentarily live juggling performances lost attraction. However, throughout the 20th century, talented jugglers such as Enrico Rastelli – who could juggle ten balls, eight sticks, and eight plates – managed to bring the hobby back into the spotlight. In fact, in 1947, the International Jugglers’ Association was formed.

Related: Learn How To Juggle With a Variety of Objects

Juggling with Space Plans

Here at Space Plans, we are proud to be a part of juggling’s colourful history. We hope also to be a part of its future. Whether you are looking to learn to circus skills like juggle as just a hobby, or want to take it even further, then we have the perfect options for you.

Juggling has a variety of both physical and mental benefits – which have been covered on our website. But is also a great way to meet other like minded people. Feel free to get in touch with us today to find out more about the online workshops that we offer, to those who are either starting out or a little more experienced.

If you enjoyed this blog on the history and who invented juggling, you may enjoy a previous one: The History of Hula Hooping