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The Chinese yo-yo is a toy from China consisting of two equally-sized discs connected with a long axle. An alternating lifting and dropping motion using two sticks, each held in one hand, keeps the yo-yo spinning on a string tied between the sticks. In modern times, it is used as a children's toy and as a performance tool in circus events like juggling and sometimes in Chinese dance. It is possible to perform a large variety of tricks with the Chinese yo-yo which can be as easy as throwing the yo-yo up into the air or tossing it around the user's back. It was found during the Ming dynasty; roughly 1386-1644.
Chinese yo-yos were traditionally made of bamboo, which was very easy to break and not convenient for complicated tricks. Modern models, however, are now made of plastic for added durability. The sticks used with the yo-yo continue to be made of wood.
Some Chinese yo-yos have grooves inset in the rim of the discs; these grooves cause them to make a whistling sound when spinning at high speeds. The sound allows the performer to gauge his speed and adjust the yo-yo accordingly.
The Chinese yo-yo has been adapted in Western countries as the diabolo. The Chinese yo-yo differs from the diabolo in two primary ways. First, the axle of the Chinese yo-yo is much longer than that of the diabolo. Also, the Chinese yo-yo has wheel-shaped discs, whereas the diabolo consists of two bell-shapes. The Chinese yoyo is also typically grooved and made of hard plastic, while diabolos are not grooved and usually made of a durable rubber material.
Single-bell Chinese yoyo
A recent variation on the Chinese yo-yo is called the single-bell Chinese yo-yo. The yo-yo consists of only one bell, and creates an uneven weight distribution. This makes a wider variety of tricks possible, including spinning the yo-yo as a top on the floor and recapturing it.
- 扯鈴 chě líng ("pull bell sound")
- 響簧 xiǎng huáng (a name given as if it's a sound instrument)
- (抖)空竹 dǒu kōng zhú ((shaking) Empty Bamboo)
Other uses of term
An unrelated toy also called Chinese yo-yo or paper laser consists of a short stick with a long coil of paper wrapped tightly around one end. Typically the whole device is about 12" long with 4-6" of paper. With a light flick of the wrist, the coil of paper extends out for several feet in the direction of the flick. As the device is moved upright, the coil retracts back to the stick.