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A brief history of Fire Juggling

Bates College Juggling Club Dan

Torch Juggling is the art of juggling lit torches. Juggling has been found depicted in hieroglyphics in Egypt, dated to almost 2000 BC. The jugglers appear to be entertainers for the pharaoh. Other pictures of jugglers appeared in Greek pottery not long after. This art appears in the traditions of Asia, Europe, and Polynesia, dating to some time before Christ. Legends involving juggling can be found from France to Hawaii and in every culture in between. As Egyptian art contains the earliest depictions of fire juggling, it is generally assumed to have been developed there. Juggling underwent two periods of revival; one in Europe and one in China. In Europe, fire juggling came back into style in the early 1800's with the creation of the gentleman juggler. This ideal gentleman could entertain with small feats of daring and skill, yet was also a respected member of society. In China fire juggling reasserted itself with the second opium war around 1855. This same period saw a revival in other fire arts in the east, as cultures attempted to proclaim their heritage. In modern Europe and America, the notion of the gentleman juggler is still present, yielding a surprising number of juggling university graduates.

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