As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Traditional Kids’ Games series (1) The Mancala

June 1st is International Children’s Day. This week we will look into the games that children played before the age of computer and arcade games. Yes, lest we forget, there was a time when kid’s fun didn’t cause obesity or cost a lot of money. Kids used to interact with each other and laugh (out loud) together. They stayed active and sweat it out. They took turns. They learned that the only way to get better was to practice, practice and practice some more.

Today I feature MANCALA, which is more of a strategy game. It is a good way to sharpen the mind and create bonding moments between family members and friends.
“Indonesian  Girls Playing Congklak (Mancala)”
Photo Source

A Little About MANCALA
Info Source

Mancala is a family of board games played around the world, sometimes called “sowing” games, or “count-and-capture” games, which describes the game-play. The word mancala comes from the Arabic word naqala meaning literally “moved.” There is no one game with the name mancala; instead mancala is a type, or designation, of game. This word is used in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, but is not consistently applied to any one game.
Today, the game is known by numerous names around the world. The names are taken from the local culture using words that reflect where the game is played, the manner of winning, the mode of play and the board or counters used. It is referred to in English as Count and Capture.
Most Mancala games share a common general game play. Players begin by placing a certain number of seeds, prescribed by the variation in use, in each of the pits on the game board. A player may count their stones to plot the game. A turn consists of removing all seeds from a pit, “sowing” the seeds (placing one in each of the following pits in sequence) and capturing based on the state of board. This leads to the English phrase “Count and Capture” sometimes used to describe the gameplay. Although the details differ greatly, this general sequence applies to all games.
Learn more about Mancala

Frog Mancala with Batik Patterns (closed)
from Java, Indonesia

found at The Mayflower Inn,Cebu
Photo by Paulina Constancia
Frog Mancala with Batik Patterns (opened)
from Java, Indonesia
found at The Mayflower Inn,Cebu
Photo by Paulina Constancia

There are many versions of the history of mancala. Allow me to share this version with you today: 
The oldest mancala game boards were found in a ruined fort of Roman Egypt and date back to the 4th century AD. The game was likely introduced to Southeast Asia by Indian or Arab traders in the 15th century. It is believed to have spread throughout the Malay world through merchants via Malacca, an important trading post at that time.(Info Source)

On the island where I was born and raised -Cebu- we call it ‘sungka’. My theory is that it was through Malacca and the spread of the game through the Malay world that sungka finally made it to Cebu. Since the Cebuano language is closely related to the Malay language it is my estimation that ‘sungka’ may have once been ‘congkak’, cowrie shells in Malay, which are used as counters in the game.

Lizard Sungka Handcarved Board 
from the Mountain Province, Philippines
Photo by Paulina Constancia

Boat Sungka with stilts, Handcarved Board
from Palawan, Philippines
found at The Mayflower Inn,Cebu
Photo by Paulina Constancia
Wanna know what Mancala is called in other countries?
Thought I’d share a few with you…
Wari (West Africa), Adi (Nigeria), Omweso (Uganda),Bao (East Africa), Olinda Kaliya (Sri Lanka),Count & Capture (England), Congklak(Indonesia),Congkak (Malaysia), Sungka (Philippines), Ban-Ban (Bosnia),Ouril(Cape Verde)

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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