Traditional games of Southeast Asia


Kite Flying
November 13, 2007, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Indonesia, Kite flying, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam

Malaysia

Traditional kite is also known as wau due to the similarity of its shape to the Arabic letter that is pronounced as ‘wow’. In the past, after post-harvesting season, wau were played by farmers on leveled ground. Although there are many different shapes of the wau, the most popular one is the Wau Bulan or Moon Kites where the tail of the kite is curved in the shape of a crescent moon. 

What is it made of: The frame is made of bamboo which measures up to 2.5 to 3 meters long. 

How to play:

The wau can be used for kite-fighting where the opponents try to bring down their rivals’ kites by cutting the strings. The string of the wau is coated with glass powder to provide the “cutting edge”. Although skills are important in maneuvering the kite or wau, the wind condition also influences the playing of the game.    


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Vietnam 

Traditional Vietnamese kites are known as dieu sao, with eight ovoid wings attached, plus 5 bamboo flutes in graduated sizes mounted to make a pleasing drone when kite is flown.

How the kite is made: A typical adult’s kite has four parts: the body, the steering string, the flying string and flutes. Well polished outer bamboo stalk is used for the frame of the kite. Bamboo straps are shaped into a crescent, two to three metres long and one metre wide. The frame is then covered with cotton cloth or glued paper.

The steering string dictates the direction of the flight and prevents the kite from breaking in strong winds. It also helps to balance the kite if one side is heavier than the other. The flying string, from 100m to 150m is also made of bamboo whereby it is made soft and flexible through boiling it in water or traditional Chinese medication.

Flutes are made through careful carvings of flute mouths whereby sounds of birds, music or gong can be produced as desired.

How to play:

Normally, the most well decorated kite with the most unique flute melodies wins. Kite-fighting competition is held in Quang Yen Townlet (Quang Ninh Province) whereby the design of the kite does not matter. Whoever’s kite that hits or destroys other kites wins. 

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Philippines

It is also known as Kolyahan ng Sarangola meaning kite fight. It is among the old games played in Philippines. Boys and girls aged seven and above play this game during the summer.  Number of players: Two teams How to play: The game is played by teams using either a big kite (gorion) or a small kite. Teams attempt to destroy opponent’s kite while minimizing the damages to their own kite. 

Indonesia

Layang-layang or kite flying is a popular game among the children in Indonesia. Kites used are of two different types, either to be used just for flying whereby a tail is attached to provide balance, or for fighting.

How the kite is made:

Fighting kites are made of light bamboo and waxed paper. Strings attached to the kites are often coated with soaked in a solution of crushed glass boiled with ka, chemicals and dye. This ensures that crushed glass will grip onto the strings.

How the string is tied to the kite will affect the control the player has on the kite. When two strings are far apart to the kite frame, the kite will be heavier but this allows better control over the kite. When two strings are close to the frame, the kite will be lighter at the expense of better control.

How to play:

To win the game, players attempt to destroy the opponents’ kites by cutting them loose. The objective of the game is to try and cut the opponents’ kite loose.



Mancala
November 13, 2007, 1:20 pm
Filed under: East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mancala, Philippines, Singapore

Singapore 

Number of players: Two 

Materials used: Congkak board (normally made of wood), shells or seeds. 

How to play:

The aim is of the game is to collect as many seeds into the storehouses on the player’s side. The board has two rows of seven cups (houses) on each side and a larger compartment (storehouse) at each end. The houses are filled with 7 seeds each while storehouses are empty.

A player begins by scooping up all the seeds in any house on his side and drops a seed in the next house in clockwise direction. Whenever he passes his storehouse, the player will drop a seed in it as well. However, he will not have to deposit any into the opponent’s storehouse if he passes by it. The game continues where the last seed of each scoop is deposited.

If the seed drops into a house containing seeds, the player scoops up all the seed s in that house and continue distributing them. If the seed drops into the player’s house which is without seeds, the player is entitled to collect the seeds in his opponent’s house directly opposite his own. These seeds are deposited into his own storehouse. If the seed falls into an empty house belonging to the opponent, the player forfeits his turn and leaves his seeds in the opponent’s house. The opponent will then take his turn to play. 

The first round finishes when a player has no more seeds on his side. In the second round, players will redistribute seeds from whatever they collected in their storehouse from the first round and fill their houses. Beginning from left to right, seven seeds are placed in each house.

If one does not have enough seeds to fill his own houses, the remaining empty houses are considered ‘burnt’ and will be bypassed in the game. Leftover seeds are deposited into the respective storehouses. The loser of the first round gets to start. If a seed is accidentally dropped into a burnt house, it will go to the opponent’s storehouse. Play continues till one loses all his houses. 

Instructional videos can be viewed here.

Philippines

Known as Sungka, the game is a traditional Filipino game played by two players.  

Number of players: Two  

Materials used: Wood  

How to play:

The aim is to collect stones or cowry shells in the player’s home base by dropping the shells around smaller house until the player is left with no shells. Whoever gathers the most number of shells in his base wins. 

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Indonesia 

Number of players: 2
 
Materials used: made of wood, played with stones/shells/seeds

In Sulawesi, historically, the game was only played during grieving periods, after the death of a loved one. It was considered taboo to play the game at any other time. In Central Java, in pre-historic times, Congklak was used by farmers to calculate the seasons, to know the timing of planting and harvesting, as well as to predict the future.
 

Even within Indonesia, Congklak is known by different names from region to region. The most common name, Congklak, is taken from the cowrie shell, which is commonly used to play the game.  

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Malaysia

This is a game of wit played by the women in the past. 

Materials used: Congkak board made of wood and either shells, pebbles, rubber seeds, saga, tamarind seeds or small marbles as the seeds 

Number of players: Two 

How to play:

Two girls will sit face to face on the ground with the congkak board in between them. The total seeds used for the game depends on the number of pits in the congkak board. For example, if there are five pits on the congkak set, then there will be five seeds in each pit. These seeds are actually points for the players.

The left most corner of the player is the ‘Home’ for the player. The player starts the game by selecting and taking all of the seeds from one pit and putting the seeds one at a time in each pit including the player’s Home but not the opponent’s Home in a clockwise direction. The player will get to play another round if the last seed landed in her Home when she was distributing it in each pit during her turn. However, if the last seed landed on the empty pit on her side of the board, she loses her turn and will collect the seeds in the opposite pit and place them in her Home.

The first round will end when all the pits on one side are empty. The second round starts when the players start to fill in their pits with the seeds collected in their Home during the first round. If the pit is not filled, then it is considered ‘burnt’. In the second round of the game, the players will repeat the same way of playing except that they can’t fill the seeds in the ‘burnt’ pit. The game continues until one of the player surrenders.

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East Timor

This game is known as wari in East Timor. The wari board has six cups called ‘houses’ and a reservoir at each player’s each, to contain captured pieces. Players in rural places may simply make pits on the ground to play. 

Number of players: Two 

How to play: The game is similar to how it is played in Singapore and Malaysia.

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Pole climbing competition
November 13, 2007, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Philippines, Pole-climbing, Thailand

Thailand

In Thailand, the game is known as Been sao nam-mun whereby it is normally played during occasions such as the Buffalo Racing Festival. Number of players: Individual or team game. Materials used: Long, greased pole and prize. How to play: An individual or a team has to climb up a long, greased pole, placed upright. Usually, money is involved whereby whoever manages to reach the top of the pole wins the prize money.   

Philippines  

The game, which is similar to the one played in Thailand is called Palo Sebo, played during celebrations and fiestas. It originates from a game played by the Visayas which requires men to climb up greased coconut trees. It is also similar ‘Pinang’, a game of Java, Indonesia. Number of players: Individual or team game, normally played by young men. 

Materials used: A long polish bamboo pole, greased with oil, to be planted on the ground. Prize is placed at the top end of the poles 

How to play:

An individual or team competes with the rest to climb the pole for the prize. Normally, the prize consists of cash, whose amount depends on the sponsor’s generosity.

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Top
November 13, 2007, 4:38 am
Filed under: Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Top, Uncategorized

Malaysia

Gasing, or top spinning, is a traditional game popular among Malays in the past. During the rice-ripening season, gasing contests were held in the rural area. It is a belief among the kampung folks that the spinning tops would help bring good harvest.   What it is made of: Soft wood or hard fruit with a string that is tightly wounded round a nail at the base of the top Number of players: Individual or teams  How to play:
A circular boundary is marked on the ground within which the top is to spin. A player has to throw the top into the marked boundary by pulling the winded string backwards, resulting in the top to spin. The winner of this game is the player who is able to spin the top the longest within the circular boundary. The player whose top spins out of the circle loses the game. The quality of the top and the strength exerted by the player affects how long the top will spin.

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Philippines 

In Philippines, the game is known as Turumpo. Each province has its own shape and style of top but the most beautiful and biggest are those found among the Maranao of Mindanao. 

What it is made of: Soft wood for regular games whereas hard wood for competition 

Number of players: Individual or teams 

How to play:    
The top is played by winding the metre-long string among the top, The top is held between two fingers and the thumb and thrown to the ground. The competition is of two kinds. One is to inflict damage on the opponent’s tops; the other is to keep it spinning for the longest time. 


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Singapore

What it is made of: Normal wood  

Number of players: Individual or teams 

How to play: The style of playing is the same as in Malaysia




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