Xiong Yiliao (熊宜僚), a warrior who fought under King Zhuang of Chu (who ruled from 613 to 591 BC), is one of the earliest known jugglers in History. The Chinese word for the practice was ‘nongwan’ (弄丸) and was defined as ‘the art of throwing multiple objects up and down without dropping them’.
During a battle in about 603 BC between the kingdoms of Chu and Song, according to the annals, Xiong Yiliao stepped out between the armies and juggled nine balls, which so amazed the Song troops that all five hundred of them turned and fled, allowing the Chu army to win a complete victory.
- Wikipedia’s article “Juggling in ancient China”
Chinese Acrobatics Through the Ages (Fu Qifeng)