Entertainment and Games of Ancient China

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In ancient China, the majority of people’s time was spent at work. They worked nonstop without taking any days off for the majority of the year. However, kids had the opportunity to play games and enjoy entertainment at festivals throughout the year.


Chinese culture in the distant past placed a high value on music. Bells and chimes were the first instruments. Flutes and string instruments (like the guqin) were among the new instruments that were created over time. It was common for music and philosophy to coexist. For instance, in various eras, it was believed that music used the Taoist principles of yin and yang to harmonize with nature.

Acrobatics and Dance

Since the earliest Chinese dynasties, dance has played a significant role in art. Throughout the Tang Dynasty, it peaked. Since at least the Qin Dynasty in 207 BC, acrobatics have been a common form of entertainment. Dance and acrobatics were frequently integrated with other entertainment modalities including juggling, martial arts, and music.


Chinese opera was created around the tail end of the Zhou Dynasty by fusing dance, acting, and music. In Chinese opera, actors portray well-known Chinese legends and heroes through song and dance while donning lavish costumes. Even now, Chinese opera remains a well-liked entertainment genre.


Around 500 BC, the kite was created in China. The kite was first primarily employed for military purposes. Kites, however, started to gain popularity as a form of entertainment during the Tang Dynasty. Paper or silk kites with bamboo frames were common. Many kites were so elaborately designed that they doubled as both toys and works of art.

Game Boards

The Chinese were fond of playing several board games. Go, also known as weiqi, was one of the most well-liked games. Go was created sometime in the first century BC. Go eventually gained so much traction that it was included in the list of the Four Scholarly Arts that every Chinese gentleman was expected to master. Go is a strategic game. It is played on a grid with little “stones” that are black and white.

Card Games

In China, during the Tang Dynasty, playing cards were first created. 30 cards were often included in a pack of cards. The cards had values and suits. These cards were used in a wide range of card games that the Ancient Chinese created.


In the later dynasties of Ancient China, reading was a popular pastime for many affluent individuals. Over the course of much of Ancient Chinese history, poetry played a significant role. For fun, people would recite and create poetry. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, novels grew in popularity. These dynasties produced the “Four Great Classical Novels” of Chinese literature. They are Dream of the Red Chamber, Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Water Margin.

Interesting Information on Games and Entertainment in Ancient China

The Ancient Chinese participated in a sport called jiju, which was a forerunner of polo. Throughout the Tang Dynasty, it peaked.

Around the seventh century, fireworks were created in China. They were employed for amusement and to fend off bad spirits during festivities.

Gambling with sticks, dice, or cards was a highly common source of entertainment.

Around 200 BC, the Chinese created cuju, one of the first variations of football (soccer).

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