I've been collecting Baoding Balls (also known as "Chinese Hand Exercise Balls") since the summer of 1989 when I bought my first pair in Boston, Massachusetts. I've always tried to buy pairs that have something unusual about them, something I haven't seen before to keep the hobby interesting. I recently did a web search to see how much information there was on the web about Baoding Balls (named after Baoding, China, where they were originally manufactured) and there's an awful lot of text (including transcriptions of the "Engrish" instructions), and some amazing video, but I couldn't find any sites dedicated to images of Baoding Balls.
So here they are, from largest to smallest, all the Baoding Balls in my collection with text descriptions to accompany them. I've kept the zoom steady on the camera so that you can see the difference in sizes between the sets. Select any thumbnail image to view a larger version of the graphic.
|These are about 2" in diameter and solid greenish stone. I think the stone is probably marble. They're very heavy, and hence good exercise. Since they're solid and don't have chimes in them, they're also sonically discreet (that is, they don't make noise).|
|For practice, I bought a pair of standard billiards cue balls during a closing sale at the knife store in the mall. That's right, given the opportunity to buy sharp things at deep discount, I buy the bluntest things available. They're a bit lighter than the stone ones and about the same size as the green mrble ones.|
|This pair are also about the same size, and a little more standard in that they are polished steel and have chimes in them. This is the first pair I ever found with this cool heat discoloration in the steel.|
|Slightly smaller are these stone spheres. I bought these for a very good price from a merchant at the Pennsic War who'd had a rainy week and didn't want to cart them home.|
|These marble spheres are the same sie as the previous pair, and came from the same merchant. He said he'd bought a bunch to use as weights in the pommels of swords. They're quite nice.|
|Probably the cheapest Baoding Balls I've ever found, a merchant was selling thise for $3 at a Science Fiction convention. They're black cloisonne enamel, with little brass triangular spirals. I don't know what the deal was, but they're certainly nice for three bucks.|
|I think I got these up in Connecticut at a little store in a cheesy tourist area. They're enameled, with an orange sun in one and a yellow moon in the other.|
|These are the first two Baoding Balls I ever purchased. They're super beat up now, since they had to put up with me dropping them on concrete and other hard surfaces. They were polished steel to begin with, and are what I would call "average size".|
|These glass spheres have been popular for a while, but it took me some time to find some that were priced low enough that I could buy a pair of them. They are cut from bundles of fiber optic cable, and died. Consequently, they transmit light well from one direction (like ulexite "TV rock") and resemble tiger eye from most other directions.|
|Bought these large glass marbles for Sharon to exercise with, but she never got into it, so she ceded them to my collection. These are presumably hand made, and they have some irregularities. They'r esome of the largest glass marbles I;ve ever seen, though.|
|This pair are almost exactly the same as the previous pair, but instead of a smooth surface, they came with smaller balls embedded in the surface. Each ball has eight smaller balls in it. They don't roll like normal balls, but the massaging action is a little more interesting.|
|I referred to these as the "Red/Black Dragon" pair for a while until somebody pointed out that the red symbol was a Phoenix. Dragon & Phoenix are the embodiments of Yin & Yang.|
|These are a couple more marbles, from the same source as the blue and red ones. They're still a bit large for gaming marbles, but they're a bit small for exercise spheres. They're the smallest silent pair I have, though.|
|These are the smallest plain chrome balls I've found. They're about 1.125" in diameter, but their chimes are still of a very pleasing pitch.|
|The title of "Smallest" actually belongs to this pair, though. They have the same heat discoloration that the largeest chrome pair have, but these are only 7/8" in diameter.|
|A friend gifted me this chrome egg that is hollow and has a chime like a baoding ball. It's the only one of its kind I have ever seen, and I don't know where he got it. It's cool and makes a great oddball addition to this collecion, though.|
Anyway, it's not a huge collection, but I think I have a good respresentation of the variety of Baoding Balls that I've seen, and the variation in sizes between sets. I can twirl most of these pairs in either direction in either hand.