Ancient China Recreation

There were many types of games and sports that were played in ancient China for recreation. Ancient Chinese people worked most of the time and there was little time to enjoy playing games and participating in sports.

When they did get a chance to relax and entertain, ancient Chinese people had plenty of ways to occupy their time with fun.
Chinese Archery
Many of the games were played by both male and female participants. Ancient China recreation also taught players valuable military tactics.

Kite flying

Kite flying was a favorite pastime in ancient China. The ancient Chinese invented the kite and it was first used in the military. Kites were made of bamboo frames and silk or paper.
Kite Flying
The kites were heavily decorated with symbols of the Chinese Zodiac. The kites were a colorful spectacle to see while floating in the sky.

Card games

The ancient Chinese invented the first playing cards. Ancient Chinese playing cards consisted of 30 cards in a pack. The pack of cards were color coordinated or in suites with values. Playing cards were used for a variety of games including for gambling.
Four Color Cards

Board games

Board games were very popular in ancient China. The most played board game in ancient China was named Go. The board game was played on a grid with pieces that were colored black and white.

The pieces were called stones. Go was so important in ancient China that it was one of the Four Scholarly Arts which were learned by all.

Acrobatics, dance and music

Acrobatics were a favorite form of recreation in ancient China. Acrobatics were generally mixed with music, marital arts and juggling.

Dance was combined with music too. Many forms of dance simulated martial art movements. Music was played with chimes and bells until other instruments like flutes were introduced to ancient China.

String instruments included an instrument called guqin. Acrobatics, dance and music were forms that brought harmony to nature.

Team sports

Team sports such as Cuju were played in ancient China. The game is similar to soccer. The goal was set in the middle of the field and teams consisted of a variety of players as long as both sides had the same amount of players. Ancient Chinese women also were allowed to play Cuju.

Another popular team sport was Ji Ju. The game was played similar to a polo match. Players would ride horses and hit a wooden ball with a stick shaped like a mallet. Ji Ju was played by ancient Chinese women too.

Archery and swordplay

Archery and swordplay were favorite things for recreation in ancient China. Both items were important training for the military too. Archery competitions included shooting to penetrate a target and how to shoot a series of arrows rapidly with accuracy.

Swordplay was also important in martial arts and was seen as an art form. Women in ancient China also participated in both of these recreational activities.

Important facts about ancient China recreation

  • Playing cards were invented by the ancient Chinese.
  • The first playing cards had 30 cards in a pack which were colored coded and had suits.
  • A popular board game in ancient China was called Go.
  • Recreation in ancient China included Ju JI which was similar to polo.
  • Acrobatics, dance and music were used to harmonize nature.
  • Kite flying was originally used by the military.
  • Cujo was an early form of soccer played in ancient China.
  • Women were allowed to play most games in ancient China.


1. How many cards were in the first deck of cards invented by the ancient Chinese?


2. What was the name of the game in ancient China that was similar to soocer?


3. What type of symbols decorated most kites?

Chinese Zodiac

4. What type of ancient China recreation symbolized harmonizing nature?

Acrobatics, dance and music