The yo-yo is an ancient toy. The earliest known yo-yo was made of terra cotta and dates to around 500 BCE. Used by children for play, they were also used to hunt small animals and birds.

Unknown, Indian girl with yo-yo, Punjab Hills, India, c.1700, British Museum, London.

Unknown, Indian girl with yo-yo, Punjab Hills, India, c.1700, British Museum, London.

This very simple scene is not easily interpreted. Games of chance are typically analogous to many realms of life- business and love. A yo-yo is an obvious symbol of the ups and downs of life. But it is also like a puppet because there is only one person who controls those movements.

This young girl, very beautifully yet modestly dressed, is concentrating upon her toy yo-yo as if it was something besides a game. It has been suggested that it is her way of dealing with her admirers, encouraging or pulling them towards her and then pushing them away. This push/pull at least gives her the power over who is brought in close.

Yet, given her red dress, the traditional Indian wedding color, she likely belongs to a wealthy family and her fate has long since been decided by the men in her life. The yo-yo might be the only thing she has control over.

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