Exploring China’s Ancient Game of Cuju: Li Weipeng Showcases the Sport’s Tricks in Qatar
“Lotuses moving gracefully in the wind” and “swallows returning to nest” may sound like poetic phrases evoking images of nature at its best, but they also serve as the names of tricks in the ancient Chinese game of cuju, a forerunner of modern soccer. Recently, Li Weipeng, the seventh-generation inheritor of cuju in China, demonstrated these tricks during the China-Qatar youth cuju exchange on November 21 in Doha, Qatar, where the World Cup was in full swing.
As a way to introduce Chinese culture to Qatar and the world, the event showcased the similarities and differences between cuju and soccer, two sports that have a lot in common despite their historical and cultural differences. Wearing traditional cuju costumes, Chinese and Qatari youth players gathered to sample the ancient game and learn about its history through a photo exhibition that introduced the background of the sport.
Cuju, which has been traced back to the Linzi district of Zibo, Shandong province, was acknowledged by FIFA as the earliest form of soccer in 2004. The word “cu” means to kick, while “ju” refers to an ancient type of leather ball filled with feathers. This sport, which was popular during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), has been passed down through generations, and Li Weipeng is one of the few people who have been keeping the tradition alive.
According to Li, the essence of cuju is not only in its gameplay, but also in its philosophy. “Cuju is not just a sport, but also a way of life. It emphasizes the harmony between man and nature, and the balance between the body and the mind,” he says.
The event was hosted by the Chinese and Foreign Cultural Exchange Center of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, and Zibo city’s government. The Chinese Ambassador to Qatar, Zhou Jian, attended the event and expressed his hope that the event would attract more Qatari people to understand and perceive Chinese culture. He added that cuju is one of the spiritual symbols and part of the cultural essence of Chinese civilization.
In addition to promoting cultural exchange, the event also showcased the cooperation between China and Qatar in various fields, including the construction of World Cup venues, public transportation, and broadcasting. Zhou Jian stated that China fully supports Qatar in hosting the World Cup, and the two countries have been carrying out fruitful cooperation in many areas.
The China-Qatar youth cuju exchange event is a meaningful and creative way to introduce Chinese culture to the world, and to showcase the beauty and diversity of sports. With the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing, China will have more opportunities to present its culture and traditions to a global audience. It is through these events that people can learn about and appreciate different cultures, and foster mutual understanding and respect.
Cuju and Pandas: China’s Cultural Journey to the Origin of Football in Qatar”
China’s rich cultural heritage was on full display during the recent China-Qatar youth cuju exchange in Doha, Qatar, where the World Cup is currently underway. The event, which was part of the “Cultural Journey to the Origin of Football” series of international exchange promotion activities, aimed to showcase the historical and cultural roots of the sport and promote cultural understanding between China and Qatar.
During the event, Li Weipeng, the seventh-generation inheritor of cuju in China, demonstrated two cuju tricks, known as “Lotuses moving gracefully in the wind” and “swallows returning to nest,” to the delight of the Chinese and Qatari youth players. Li also led the players in wearing traditional cuju costumes and playing the ancient game, allowing them to experience the similarities and differences between cuju and modern soccer.
The cuju exhibition at the FIFA Fan Festival in Al Bidda Park, Doha, was another important event of the cultural journey. The exhibition booth featured several areas, including a cuju door display, graphics, videos, and live interaction, to present the historical and modern interpretations of the ancient Chinese game. This provided an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history and cultural significance of cuju, which was acknowledged by FIFA as the earliest form of soccer in 2004.
In addition, Zibo, the birthplace of cuju in the Linzi district of Shandong province, held a cuju performance and exhibition at the Linzi Football Museum, along with the screening of a promotional film named “Cultural Journey to the Origin of Football.” This showcased the cultural richness and diversity of China, which is deeply rooted in its history and traditions.
The event was hosted by the Chinese and Foreign Cultural Exchange Center of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, and Zibo city’s government. Chinese Ambassador to Qatar Zhou Jian spoke highly of the event, saying that cuju is one of the spiritual symbols and part of the cultural essence of Chinese civilization. He hoped that the event would promote the exchange and mutual appreciation of Chinese and Qatari cultures, and attract more Qatari people to understand and perceive Chinese culture.
Zhou also mentioned the presence of two lovely pandas during the event, which added a festive and peaceful Chinese element to the success of the World Cup. The friendly soccer match between Chinese and Qatari youths that followed the event was a great opportunity for cultural exchange and friendship building between the two countries.
The cultural journey to the origin of football is not only about promoting the sport but also about showcasing the cultural heritage of different countries. Through events like these, people can learn about the rich history and traditions that underlie the beautiful game of soccer. China, with its long and rich history, has a lot to offer in this regard, and events like the China-Qatar youth cuju exchange help to promote cultural understanding and exchange between nations.