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Manipur polo players

Manipur polo players

Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1875

Shelfmark: Photo 15/10(61)

Item number: 31

Length: 21

Width: 27.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Group portrait of six Manipuris, dressed in polo clothes and holding sticks, at Manipur in north-eastern India, taken by Bourne and Shepherd in the 1870s. Two of the group shown here are mounted on stocky ponies. The game of polo, locally known as sagol kangjei (horse hockey), was played in Manipur from ancient times. Polo was also played in ancient Persia and China and controversy still surrounds the question of where the game was actually invented. It was patronized and played by the kings and nobles of Manipur and, in the middle of the nineteenth century, was seen by British troops, adopted by them and subsequently brought to a wider audience. Polo was used in all these civilizations as a way of keeping both horse and rider fit between wars; it was also considered a way of making health checks on government or military officials. Calcutta Polo Club, the oldest in the world, was founded in 1862. The first official game in England was held in 1871 in Aldershot, Hampshire, by the10th Hussars.

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