Chunca (Chungcajon): Game from The Philippines

Philippines Map

This hand carved and polished wooden board was donated to the Museum in 1972. The woman who donated the board was a graduate student in the United States from The Philippines. She had brought the board from her home.

She said that the game was called Chunca and was a traditional game in the Philippines. She indicated that she had been playing the game at home with members of her family since she was a child.


The board (16cm wide x 72.5cm long x 2.5cm thick) has 2 rows of 7 depressions (6.1cm in diameter) along the length, and a larger round depression (8.4cm diameter) at each end. The board is oval shaped with one long side curved out to form a carrying handle. Between some of the depression there are incised designs.

It is to be noted, that unlike the other Count and Capture games in the Museum collection, this board features seven depressions or cups on each side. The boards from elsewhere all have six depressions on a side. However, like the other boards, this one from the Phillippines also offers a "bank" on each end of the board.

How To Play

Laurence Russ, Mancala Games, Reference Publications, Inc., 1984, page 64, citing three older references, refers to the Philippine game as Sungka, Chonka, Congkak, and offers detailed instructions for a version of this game.

H.J.R. Murray, A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess, Oxford University Press, 1952, describes a 2x7 board with  a 2 "stores"  from The Philippines, which he named Chuncajon (game 7.4.16 page 176). He has this to say:

..the game was common ... in the Philippine Islands, where a boat-shape board with sixteen holes is also used the game being called Chungcajon ....each player owning and sowing in the store to his left hand; seven beans in each hole; several laps to the move; one round; play anticlockwise. A move can begin from any of the player's holes. If the last bean in hand falls in his store, the move ends.

Stuart Culin wrote about this game in his US National Museum (Smithosian Institution) paper in 1900 about games from the Philippines. (Note: The complete paper is available in the "Archive Document" section of this Website.)


(cat. No. 165422 US National Museum) Chungcajon

Played with a boat-shape board with fourteen holes in two rows and a large hole at each end (figure 74). Ninety-eight shells (of the same variety as those used in the game of Capona) are employed, which, at the opening of the game, are evenly distributed in the fourteen cavities, seven in each. The two players sit on opposite sides of the board; either may begin, as may be agreed on. The first player takes the shells from any one of the holes in the row nearest to him and drops one in each hole, passing to the left, and also in the large hole at the left end, but not in the large one at the right, which is the depository of his opponent. When he has dropped the seven shells, he takes the shells from the cavity in which he dropped the last one. He continues in this way until he has dropped his last shell into his end cavity. Both players continue alternately until all the shells in the small cavities are exhausted, when the player having the larger number of shells in his home is the winner. As before described by the writer, this game is widely distributed through Asia and Africa where Arab influences have penetrated. In Ceylon it is called chanca, and at Johore, Straits Settlements, chondkak. The arrangement of the board in both cases is the same as in the Philippine game.

Last update February 5, 2010