hist-games: Japanese Game Hanafuda, Making a Senet Game

Miller A millerac at sasktel.net
Sun Jul 23 17:37:42 PDT 2006

What about the Japanese card game Hanafuda -  it is a subtle matching card game that I have played and find very enjoyable and it is easy to find information and decks - there seems to be much history attached to this game, which saw a revival in popularity through Nintendo card manufacturing (yes, the company now known for computer games).  

As per your request for instructions in making a Senet game,  they are included in a book called 'Games of the World: How to Make Them How to Play Them How They Came to Be' Edited  by Frederic V. Grunfeld, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.  

I hope some of this information is helpful to you.

-- Angie Miller

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From: hist-games-request at www.pbm.com
Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 1:00 pm
Subject: hist-games Digest, Vol 15, Issue 3

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> Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2006 17:08:14 -0500
> From: "Burke, Robin" <rburke at cti.depaul.edu>
> Subject: hist-games: New list member / some questions
> To: <hist-games at www.pbm.com>
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> Greetings,
> I'm new to the list, so I'll introduce myself. My name is Robin Burke.
> I'm a professor at DePaul University (computer science, actually). I
> teach computer game design and development usually, but this fall,
> through an unlikely chain of circumstances, I find myself teaching an
> undergraduate course on the history of games. 
> The course is using case study format, with the idea being to use
> particular games to illuminate historical moments, using games
> themselves as historical sources. I plan to use 4 such games / moments
> of which three are pretty certain:
> * senet (ancient egypt, probably new kingdom, but of course the 
> game is
> played for centuries before and after)
> * chess (medieval rules, before the "mad queen" comes along.)
> * "the checkered game of life" (great comparison to the later milton
> bradley games)
> The fourth is presenting something of a problem for me. I need 
> somethingnon-Western, preferably Asian. I would like a game that 
> is not a classic
> strategy game like any of Asian chess variants or Aware. It must be
> something that students can play in class, so no camel racing or tiger
> hunting. :-)
> In an ideal world, I would have them play kai-ooi (the Japanese shell
> matching game). It is sufficiently old (15th century at least 
> accordingto "The Arts of Contest"), yet represented well in 
> literature and art so
> there are primary sources to look at. It is a social game and 
> celebratesthe observation of subtleties, an excellent launching 
> point for talking
> about cultural differences. The problem is that, of course, kai-
> ooi sets
> do not seem to be items of commerce, at least not for the last 200 
> yearsor so. I've thought of making my own set, which would require 
> eating a
> lot of clams (which I'm not opposed to), but I have yet to find
> clamshells that reliably fit together once taken apart. 
> So, my first question is to see if there are any kai-ooi experts out
> there who can enlighten me about what I should ask for at the seafood
> counter, if I want to make my own kai-ooi set. Or perhaps there is a
> suitable substitute game, ideally of the "matching" variety that would
> be playable in my class. (I've read about the 100 poets game, but that
> won't really be playable by those non-literate in Japanese.) I've also
> read about other types of matching games (not incense, please, the 
> firedepartment would be all over me!) using found objects like sticks.
> Obviously, this would be easier to pull off, but I would need some
> primary sources in which descriptions of such games appear and I 
> haven'tseen any.
> The second question I have is about the game Senet. What I am most
> interested in is the methodology of reconstructing the game from the
> archeological evidence. I want to get across the idea of historical
> detective work: how disparate clues are gathered and combined to 
> come up
> with an informed conclusion. The rules of an unknown game are an
> excellent way to explore this process. I'm hoping someone on this list
> can point me towards publications where the process of the
> reconstruction of Senet is described in English -- I've seen a 
> number of
> references in French (Lhote) and in German (Pusch), but this won't 
> do my
> students (or me) any good. Any pointers appreciated.
> Robin Burke
> Associate Professor
> School of Computer Science, Telecommunications, and
>   Information Systems
> DePaul University 
> http://josquin.cti.depaul.edu/~rburke/
> "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms" - Muriel Rukeyser
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