Board Game and Sixteen Circular Holes

Topics: Board game, Game, Shell Pages: 3 (855 words) Published: February 5, 2009
Sungká is a popular traditional board game in the Philippines. Played on a block of carved-out wood called sungkahan, the game is one of calculation over skill.


Experts say that malancala, an early version of sungká, may be the oldest game in the world, with almost every culture having some variation of it. Stones used in mancala boards have been found carved into the roofs of temples in Memphis, Thebes, and Luxor -- evidence that the game was played in Egypt before 1400 BC. Studies say that the boardgame may have evolved in Egypt from counters used for accounting and stock-taking. Evidence of these boards have also been found in Ancient Sumeria. In Africa, the game is considered a national pastime and is played by tribes numbering in the hundreds. Malancala, being Arabic in origin, makes some scholars suspect that the game progressed from west to east, meaning from Asia to the coast of Atlantic. As for the origin of the term "sungka", researchers found traces of a similar game at a stream in Indonesia. The stream, widely known to travellers as the Red River, is called sonka by early Asians. The theory maintains that the sungka game Filipinos know today may have been brought by Indonesians when they migrated to the Philippines.

[edit] The Sungkahan

The Sungkáhan is a hollowed-surfaced board that has regular intervals with sixteen circular holes, with one large hole at the end of each side - called mother or "ulo" (head). It is shaped like a boat with an artfully rounded ends. The large holes are five inches wide.The fourteen small holes are called bahay (houses) with a capacity of a handful tokens. They are hollowed out alongside at equal distances, seven holes in each row, approximately half an inch apart. These small holes are about two inches in diameter or big enough for a player to put five fingers at once. Shells, pebbles, or seeds are used as tokens. The board varies from 30 to 32 inches long, 7 to 9 inches wide, and 3 to 5 inches thick....
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