Iran’s Contribution to the World: Games and Sports

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By: Badi Badiozamani

Material presented in this section has been provided to Iran Online by Iranian Cultural Center of Orange County (ICCOC).

Polo (Chowgan) – is an ancient Persian game.  Iranians call it Chowgan (chow to be pronounced like tow and gan like gun).  The oldest mention of this game is in Ferdosi’s Shahnameh (composed about 1,000 years ago) where the game played between Siyavash and his Persian retinue in one side and Afrasiyab, the Tooranian King and his brother Garsivaz, on the other is described in the form of poetry.  Many Europeans have written their accounts of Shah Abbas Safavi either playing polo or watching the game from the balcony of the Ali Ghapoo palace, in Esfahan, while drinking snow-chilled Shiraz wine with his courtiers.

Polo was carried to India by the Mongol rulers.  The Mongol emperor Akbar, is said to judge the suitability of a candidate for the position of the Minister of State by observing his behavior on the polo field.  Later, the British army officers assigned to India brought polo to England and from there, it was propagated throughout the world.
*Excerpts from “Iran & America: Rekindling a Love Lost” by Badi Badiozamani