Battledore and Shuttlecock

Battledore and shuttlecock or jeu de volant is an early game similar to that of modern badminton. This game is played by two people, with small rackets, called battledores, made of parchment or rows of gut stretched across wooden frames, and shuttlecocks, made of a base of some light material, like cork, with trimmed feathers fixed round the top. Georgian girl with Battledore and Shuttlecock by  Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) The object of the players is to bat the shuttlecock from one to the other as many times as possible without allowing it to fall to the ground. From Mrs. Hurst Dancing, by Diana Sperling Jane Austen, herself, played the game with her nephews. In 1808, she wrote to Cassandra
Yesterday was a very quiet day with us; my noisiest efforts were writing to Frank, and playing at battledore and shuttlecock with William; he and I have practised together two mornings, and improve a little; we have frequently kept it up three times, and once or twice six.
Games with a shuttlecock are believed to have originated in ancient Greece about 2,000 years ago. From there they spread via the Indo-Greek kingdoms to India and then further east to China and Siam. There are Greek drawings extant representing a game almost identical with battledore and shuttlecock, and it has been popular in India, China, Japan, and Siam for at least 2,000 years. In Europe it has been played by children for centuries. A further development is badminton. Capture The original illustration from "A Girl's Own Book Lydia Maria Child's Girl's Own Book (1833) offers the following detailed explanation of the game:
This game is too well known to need much description The shuttlecock sometimes called the bird is a little ball stuck full of feathers the battledoors are covered with parchment and the object of the players is to keep the bird constantly passing and re passing in the air by means of striking it with the battledoors. Some people become so expert at it that they can keep it up more than a thousand times without once allowing it to fall Little girls should not be afraid of being well tired that will do them good but excessive fatigue should be avoided especially where it is quite unnecessary

Historical information from


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