The devilstick is probably originated in China and was brought to the west in the beginning of the 19th century. Using written documents it has been proved that the devilstick is more than 200 years old but it is thougt that it existed long before.

As the Europeans brought the stick to the west they changed the name from the original meaning for playing the stick back and forth (greek: diaballo) to the english word 'devilstick'.

More detailed information can be found in Todd Strongs great devil stick book.

Here I would like to quote an interesting article from Chris Ivey which I found in the web:

New Revelations of an Old Art Form

- by Chris Ivey -

"Two toys of great interest were the devil stick and diablo, but these were not the Chinese names. The diablo was called "kung-chung", meaning hollow shimmering bell. The Chinese created the name because their diablos were made of wood or hollow bamboo. When the diablo was spun it would make a whistling noise. Missionaries, not caring what the Chinese people called the prop, decided on a different name. Missionaries were very well educated people in Greek; they chose the Greek name diaballo. "Dia" means across and "ballo" means to toss or throw. However, from the beginning the prop was almost doomed in England. A second meaning of diaballo is to slander or traduce. This second meaning led to the belief of a sort of evil spirit sense to the prop. This transition came largely from a biblical reference in the Greek version of the New Testament. While Jesus was in the desert a diabolus spirit tempted him. It is likely that the missionaries who named this prop did not intend or even believe that the prop was evil, but rather that a bad language coincidence existed. The devil stick followed a similar path to destruction. The original Chinese name for the devil stick was a "hua kun", or flower stick. Again, the Chinese name describes the prop. The Chinese devil stick (center stick) was very short, almost equaling the length of the hand sticks. During certain tricks the stick would appear to open up like a flower. However, whether lack of understanding or simple disregards, the European observers changed the name. The devil stick was originally also referred to as a diablo. (Strong 32,33) However, keeping with the religious beliefs of the time, it was thought that anyone who could manipulate a stick in such a fashion must have sold their soul to the devil to gain such ability (Dancey 29-30). It is interesting to note that this label was not placed on diablo artist. This suggests that the human mind can accept that a diablo is a humanly possible prop, where as a devil stick could never be mastered. This may also have been due to the commonness of the diablo in China. The Chinese take the prop very seriously. It is taught to children at a young age and was as common as a kickball on a Chinese playground. Perhaps, because the missionaries noted children playing with the prop an immediate demonic name was overlooked."

See complete article at http://muweb.millersville.edu/~columbus/papers/ivey-c.html

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