Early magazine pages, 1899, (2)

In Lawn Tennis, December 6th, 1899 the article on early history of badminton continues -

India 1897The origin of the game is somewhat obscure. The germ and the name are probably due to England, while its rapid evolution is certainly due to India, where it has from the first obtained a firm and apparently lasting hold. It was first played in a very primitive form in Western and, possibly, other parts of India in 1873. In that year residents of Satarra, with the aid of the late Colonel W.S. Sellon, R.E., promptly proceeded to build a special covered shed for the game as an adjunct of the station Gymkhana. Sattara was thus one of the first, if not the first, Indian station to give it a local habitation. Sattara also gave it a local, if not a very complimentary name, calling it the “Tomfool” game. This name, however was invented by the native attendant of the Gymkana, who was blissfully ignorant of its English meaning. As was natural, the first implements used were the ordinary nursery battledores and shuttlecocks. The native ground man, having no word in his vocabulary to connote a battledore, applied to it the name of the thing it most reminded him of closely, and that was the well-known native game of “tam-tam”.* Badminton played with parchment battledores certainly made a deafening noise. He might have called the shuttlecock a bird, but in his poetic fancy he preferred to call it a flower (phul). From these names, with a sublime but wholly unconscious irony, he evolved the compound word “tam-phul” as a convenient name for the game itself. The inspiration was a happy one, and it is not often that the history of a word is so clear and so well authenticated as in this case, though in years to come it may possibly create an interesting etymological puzzle for those unacquainted with the true facts. The name is hardly suitable to the serious game as now played, but it was not perhaps inappropriate during its battledore stage. Parchment, however, soon gave way to catgut. The earliest bats produced by local craftsmen were catgut. The earliest bats produced by local craftsmen were of strange and divers patterns, and a large proportion of the early players invested in English rackets and shortened the handles. As the demand rapidly grew, the manufacture of implements was started by an enterprising Parsi firm at Sialkot** in the Punjab, who soon succeeded in producing very light and suitable bats as well as good shuttlecocks. In so doing they assisted very materially in developing and perfecting the game. The Sialkot bat has altered little in design since its first introduction, and is still used almost exclusively in India, where lively shuttlecocks and wrist play are special features of the game. In England also the Sialkot bat has found favour, though it is now being gradually replaced by the heavier and more tightly strung bats of home manufacture. The comparatively slow shuttlecocks of French make, which have been supplied by British firms in recent years, have required very hard driving, and more powerful bats than were in earlier days thought necessary.

Our picture shows English colonials in India playing badminton in 1897, to see more click here.

*a correction was later printed – the passage should read ‘the well known native drum or ‘tam tam’. There is no game called ‘tam tam’ that we know of; but the native drum is an instrument which no one who has ever visited India is likely to forget.

** for more information on Sialkot bats please click here.