The football (soccer) was called "Cuju" in ancient China, and had been widely played as early as in Spring-Autumn and the Warring States periods (770-221 B.C.). The first football monograph entitled "Twenty-Five Articles on Cuju" in China appeared during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 24).
The ball-making technology underwent two significant improvements in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). First, the hull oversewn from two pieces of leather was replaced by a round one stitched from eight pieces of tapering leather. Second, the ball was upgraded from being feather-stuffed to air-inflated with an animal bladder inside that can be "blown up". Because of lighter weight, the ball can be kicked higher.
The goal was constructed out of two 3-zhang-high (10-meter) bamboo posts. With regard to the ways to play Cuju, in the Han Dynasty, Cuju matches were held directly between two competitive teams, but in the Tang Dynasty, there was a goal set up in the middle of the field between two teams and the team with the highest scores was the winner.
Female Cuju teams appeared in the Tang Dynasty. They played Cuju - in a way called "Bai Da" - without utilizing any goal, but for demonstrating the ability of kicking the ball high and playing it in an unusual way.
When it came to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the measurement of Cuju football skills was evolved from shooting precision toward the delicacy and ball-control capability of players. Moreover, the ball-making technology improved a lot than in the Tang Dynasty. The hull then was "made from 12 pieces of fragrant leather", which were "processed and tawed yellow leather" and should be "real materials and cut facilely". In making the balls, the leather pieces were "stitched together tightly without showing any thread end". And the ball was required to weigh "exact 12 liang (0.6 kg)" and its shape to be "compact and perfectly round".