An African Game from Antigua

Mao of Antigua

This compact hand carved wooden board was made in 1980 by a local craftsman in Antigua, WI.

A Folding Wari Board

The board is hinged and can be folded in half for easy transport and storage. The board is decorated with incised leaves. A stiff thick piece of rope is attached to the outside of each half, forming a carrying handle to use when the board is closed. Folded, the board is 45.4cm long x 8.2cm wide x 4.5cm thick.

Examples of similar folding boards from Africa during the last century have been cited in the literature. It is assumed that the concept of this type of folding board was brought to the Caribbean area by African slaves.

When the board is open, it is 45.4cm long x 16.5cm wide x 2.25cm thick. The playing surface includes two rows of 6 (6cm diameter) depressions, with no storage areas. When the board was purchased by the Museum for its collection, 36 dried egg shaped seeds were included for use as counters in the game.


The lack of storage banks, and the exact number of counters suggests that the play of this game is somewhat specific to a given culture. No printed playing procedures were included with the board, nor did the carver-seller call it other than "a game board". It is to be noted that the shape of the board and the lack of storge areas is similar to the Awele board from the Ivory Coast of Africa (photograph on the left).

Differences seem to be that the Africian board does not have a rope handle, and the carving is somewhat more primative than the West Indian board.

When the West Indian carver-seller was asked about the board's design, he reported that this was the shape he learned to carve by watching his father, when he (the carver-seller) was a child!

Last update February 5, 2010