Somali Games of Nimbleness

G. Marin

dζag (Issa·q)

[Page 501] Played by two children: One of them takes 8 or 12 stones in his right fist, throws them up in the air and endeavors to catch as many of then as possible on the back of his hand; he throws them up again and catches them back into his fist. The stones which have fallen on the ground during the process have to be picked up, one by one, in the interval between the [Page 502] throwing up of the stones and their being re-caught. As soon as four stones are in the right hand, they are transferred to the left, which keeps them while the right hand goes on catching the next four.

If one stone falls over two others on the back of the hand, it is called keggo; the opponent takes it and places it on the ground where it has to he picked up again during play as above.

Káutan (Da·ro·d)

This game is played in several manners: The most popular variety is called ∫an ςajjar [šan 'ayyar], i.e. the "game of five stones." Two children take part in it, each having to accomplish the following six feats:

  1. Throw the five stones on the ground. Pick up one, throw it up in the air, and before catching it, pick up a. second stone; throw one up again and pick up a third, and so on until all five stones are in the hand.

  2. Throw up one stone, and before catching it, pick up two stones; throw one up again and, before it returns, pick up the other two.

  3. During the first throw pick up three stones; during the second pick up the last one.

  4. Only one throw, during which the four remaining stones must be picked up together. (This feat is done four times in succession.)

  5. Keep the five stones in the hand; throw one up, and before catching it back, touch the ground twice with the forefinger. (This is done twice.)

  6. Place the left hand in such a way that the tip of the forefinger touches the ground, while the thumb and the middle finger are joined to form a ring, the palm facing upwards. Throw the stones on the ground with the right hand by passing it underneath the left one. The opponent then points to a stone which will have to be handled fourth in the order of succession. Throw a stone up, and before catching it back, pass a second stone through the ring from right to left. During the subsequent throws pass the remaining stones through.

When a player misses a stroke, or when he accidentally disturbs a stone not in play at the moment, his turn ends and his opponent takes play. If the latter makes a mistake the former player resumes the game at the point where he himself has left off. The one who finishes the whole game first is the winner.

When the stones are cast on the ground, should one of them remain on the top of another the thrower wins 3 strokes; if it rests on two stones (dabé·r = "donkey") he wins 2 strokes; and if it rests on 3 stones (Korsa·r = "placed on top") he wins one stroke.

Last update January 7, 2010