The Chinese yo-yo, otherwise known as the Chinese diabolo, is a traditional Chinese toy which requires a lot training to play gracefully with. Traced all the way back to the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, it has a history of at least 600 years.
Chinese yo-yos were originally made of bamboo. They are round in shape, with a low-pitched sound chamber at its center and many smaller high-pitched sound chambers made from bamboo tubes. When they’re spinning, Chinese yo-yos make a delightful sound, providing a multi-sensory experience for observers.
Today, the Chinese yo-yo has evolved, and as more and more tricks are being thought up, it is coming in new shapes that facilitate them.
In 2006, the playing of the Chinese yo-yo was inscribed as one of the first items of China’s national intangible cultural heritage.
Li Lianyuan, 70 years old, is an inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage and head of the Beijing Chinese Yo-yo Museum. He learned his Chinese yo-yo playing skills from his grandmother at the age of four and used them to attract potential customers to his family’s candy booth at a market in Beijing. He regards the sound of Chinese yo-yos as “the sound of happiness” and considers playing them to be a major source of joy in his life.