hist-games: Re: rocks and pits

David Salley salley at niktow.canisius.edu
Tue Jul 22 05:30:35 PDT 1997


Del writes:
> >Does anyone have any evidence of the rocks-and-pits games
> >(mancala, oware, trysse, and the numerous variations thereof)
> >actually being played in medieval/renaissance/baroque europe?
> >
> > [...]
> >
> >I've seen them referred to in a number of modern sources regarding
> >period games but nobody's been able to give me a primary reference.

Justin replies:
> Nope. Have you actually seen references claiming that they were played
> in Europe? I've seen them claimed to be "period" in some sources, but
> never specifically for Europe -- it's usually in sources like
> Salaamallah's Medieval Games, which casts a deliberately broad net
> (including Asia as well as Africa)...

> I have seen absolutely no references to the Mancala family in
> period European sources myself yet...

>From "Games of the World" ed. by Frederic V. Grunfeld, Pg. 20 (under _Wari_)
	"Wari is one of many similar board games played in various 
	 parts of the world.  They are generally known as _mancala_ games
	 and have been played for thousands of years in Egypt, where
	 boards have been found carved into the stone of the pyramid of
	 Cheops and the temples at Luxor and Karnak.  The game spread to
	 Asia and Africa, where the Arabs developed certain variations.
	 It thus survived through all the epochs of Egyptian history.
	 European travelers were introduced to it in the cafes of 
	 nineteenth-century Cairo, where it was customary for the loser
	 to pay for the coffee drunk during the game.

	 African slaves brought _mancala_ games to Surinam and the West
	 Indies, where they survive unchanged.  In some rural areas of
	 Africa today, children play these age-old games on 'boards' 
	 scooped out of the ground."

This pretty much confirms what I've read everywhere else.  Mancala is
"period" for African and Arabic personas, but NOT European.  Sorry :-(

							-- Dagonell
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