Sculpture from Cathedral of Toledo

Wooden stalls in the cathedral of Toledo are decorated with beautiful sculptures that show people and animals. One of these little sculptures shows gymnastic exercises.

Kemari - traditional sports of Japan

The first evidence of kemari was found in the city of Nara (a former capital city) and dates from around 644 AD. It has been recorded in the Nihon Shoki, an ancient historical chronicle. (documents dating back to the Taika Reform). From 1192 till 1333 the game was a popular sport amongst samurai. The rules were standardized from the 13th century. The game was influenced by the Chinese sport of Cuju (the very earliest form of football). The characters for Kemari are the same as Cuju in Chinese. The sport was introduced to Japan about 600, during the Asuka period. Nowadays, it is played in Shinto shrines for festivals. It actually became a compulsory game for the court nobles during the Heian Period. By the Edo era (1603 – 1867), the game’s popularity had extended beyond the samurai to also include townspeople and wealthy landowners: Kemari had become a sport of mass appeal.

Zugh d 'tutto zugh (game of all games)

Zugh d 'tutto zugh (game of all games) and signed lower right MI.FE. The work depicts 21 panels, arranged on three lines, 20 of which depict a traditional game. Autor Giuseppe Maria Mitelli (Bologna, 1634-1718).
From the first box on the top left, proceeding to the right, the games are listed: gioco delle carte, trottola (prilla), bocce, "gioco dell'amore tira tutto" (non identificato), tric-trac (tuccatigli), trucco a terra (trucc), mulino (schiera), battimuro, birilli (zun), pallamaglio (palamai), pallacorda (balla), pallone col bracciale (ballon), ruzzola (ruzla), dama, cappelletto, lippa (giare), dado (da), borella (burella), ? (non identificato), biribissi. According to Gioacchino Priscoglio, the unidentified games correspond to: biglie, filetto, morra, ruota della fortuna.

New article on Pacu Jawi

Despite the name Pacu Jawi (literally 'bull race' or 'cow race' in Minangkabau), this is not a direct competition between animals. Each rider chooses his two best cows for the "team". Then he puts on a harness (ropes) and stands on a wooden plow connecting them, which has two functions. First of all, it creates a platform, unstable and not very comfortable, for a daredevil participating in the race. Secondly, it prevents animals from separating on the route. Animals are usually bulls between the ages of 2 and 13 whose run in pairs.

Karachi Gilli Danda Championship

The Gili Danda competition in Karachi will take place in a few days. We invite everyone interested.
Karachi Gilli Danda Championship 17 January 2020 Karachi, Sindh Pakistan

Queen Humay Playing Polo with Her Slaves

Attributed to the artist Sanvlah; Queen Humay Playing Polo with Her Slaves, from an illustrated Dara-nama (The Tale of Darab) India; Mughal period (1526–1858), reign of Akbar, ca 1580-1590;The British Library.

Homo ludens, Pieter Bruegel

Picturing more than two hundred children playing over eighty different games, Children’s Games (1560) is one of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s most intriguing and least understood paintings.
Encountering Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Children’s Games for the first time is an experience that is both bewildering and enchanting. The painting’s large scale and unusual, encyclopedic composition render it instantly striking. Stretching to a distant horizon, the ocher ground of Children’s Games is studded with over two hundred children playing around eighty different games. The panel is carefully organized. A wide street sweeps from the lower left corner of the painting, encompasses the players in the central square, and extends to a distant vanishing point in the upper right. The dramatic recession of this diagonal lends the painting an asymmetric thrust, which is intersected by a second diagonal running from the beam on the ground in the lower right of the panel to the verdant countryside in the upper left. Despite these compositional structures there is no sense of narrative order to Bruegel’s collection. The game motifs are all of a similar size and events at the center of the picture appear no more charged with importance than those at its edges. This encyclopedic compositional technique is at odds with the painting’s lifelike motifs: the former encouraging the eye to move continuously over the shifting surface of the panel, and the latter prompting it to pause at each cluster of children and study the drama unfolding.
The challenge that Children’s Games presents to modern scholars operates on many levels, from the fundamental task of identifying the individual games depicted to the wider questions of the meaning behind such a panorama. The subject matter of Children’s Games is unprecedented; its only precursors being the tiny images of children playing seasonal games found in the margins of a number of Ghent-Bruges manuscripts. Circumstances surrounding the commissioning and evolution of the painting are unknown; no documents or preparatory sketches have come to light and the first extant reference to Children’s Games dates from the very end of the sixteenth century. Lacking any of the traditional aides to interpretation, scholars have adopted a variety of approaches to the painting in the centuries following its creation. The labelling and classifying of the games has been enthusiastically undertaken by folklorists, ethnographers, and historians of childhood, for whom Children’s Games represents an indispensable source in reconstructing the specifics of early modern game playing. A second approach to the panel has been the thematic interpretations, in which scholars have attempted to situate Children’s Games within series or allegories traditional to art history, examples being the Seasons or the Ages of Man. These attempts have been largely unsuccessful; the painting contains games which were played throughout the year and therefore resists categorization as a representation of a particular season, and no other works by Bruegel survive to support the notion that Children’s Games belonged to a series depicting the Ages of Man. Iconological readings represent a third type of approach. Here scholars seeking to “unlock” the meaning in Bruegel’s games have been drawn to comparable motifs in seventeenth-century Dutch emblems. Combining depictions of games and toys with mottos and texts that moralize about the behavior of young and old alike, Dutch emblem books appear to offer a key to understanding the deeper meaning behind images of play. Individual games found in emblem books such as Jacob Cats’s Silenus Alcibiabes (1618) and Pieter Roemer Visscher’s Sinnepoppen (1614) have been matched with comparable motifs in Children’s Games, with damning results: the boy blowing a bubble in the left foreground has been read as a vanitas symbol of the transience of life, while the games with hoops in the right foreground have been seen as representative of the futility of life’s endeavor. These moralizing iconological readings have now become dominant in the historiography of Children’s Games, despite the obvious methodological flaw in using seventeenth-century emblems to decode a sixteenth-century painting.
Excerpt from Amy Orrock's wonderful article from:

Concluyó el Campeonato Nacional Mexicano de Charrería 2019

Concluyó el Campeonato Nacional Mexicano de Charrería 2019
• El Cócono de Morelos se corona campeón al ganar la final con 334 puntos • La escaramuza Rancho Santa María de Jalisco se llevó el título femenil • Nayarit, Casa de la Gran Familia Charra


African Traditional Games Competitions of Botswana

African Traditional Games Competitions of Botswana, Nkange River, 2019, December 31
A great event promoting traditional sports organized by Botswana Traditional Sports & Games Confederation.







Harpastum, also called harpustum, is a ball game during the Roman Empire. The word harpastum is the Latinisation of the Greek ἁρπαστόν (harpaston), ἁρπαστός (harpastos), "carried away"; from the verb ἁρπάζω (harpazo), " to seize, to snatch." The ball used was small and hard.

Annual Ethnosport Competition 2020, Bangladesh

Lake Circus Girls' High School "Annual Ethnosport Competition 2020", Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Kemari - ancient japanese football

The first evidence of kemari is from 644 AD. The rules were standardized from the 13th century. The game was influenced by the Chinese sport of Cuju (the very earliest form of football). The characters for Kemari are the same as Cuju in Chinese. The sport was introduced to Japan about 600, during the Asuka period. Nowadays, it is played in Shinto shrines for festivals.
It is a non-competitive sport. The object of Kemari is to keep one ball in the air, with all players cooperating to do so. Players may use any body part with the exception of arms and hands – their head, feet, knees, back, and depending on the rules, elbows to keep the ball aloft. The ball, known as a mari, is made of deerskin with the hair facing inside and the hide on the outside. The ball is stuffed with barley grains to give it shape. When the hide has set in this shape, the grains are removed from the ball, and it is then sewn together using the skin of a horse. The one who kicks the ball is called a mariashi. A good mariashi makes it easy for the receiver to control the mari, and serves it with a soft touch to make it easy to keep the mari in the air.
Kemari is played on a flat ground, about 6–7 meters squared. The uniforms that the players wear are reminiscent of the clothes of the Asuka age and include a crow hat. This type of clothing was called kariginu and it was fashionable at that time.


An Egyptian chamber mural

An Egyptian burial chamber mural, from the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum dating to around 2400 BCE, showing wrestlers in action.

Ancient Indus die

An Ancient Indus die: A cubical die with 1 to 6 dots was found in rubble during excavations at Harappa. Many such dice were also found at Mohenjo-daro. John Marshall writes: "That dicing was a common game at Mohenjo-daro is proved by the number of pieces that have been found. In all cases they are made of pottery and are usually cubical, ranging in size from 1.2 by 1.2 by 1.2 inches to 1.5 by 1.5 by 15 inches. . .. The dice of Mohenjo-daro are not marked in the same way as to-day, i.e. so that the sum of the points on any two opposite sides amounts to seven. Instead of that, 1 is opposite 2, 3 opposite 4, and 5 opposite 6. All the examples found are exceedingly well made with well-defined edges; the points are shallow holes averaging 0.1 inch in diameter. The clay of which they are made is light red in color, well baked, and sometimes coated with a red wash. These dice must have been thrown on a soft surface, such as a piece of cloth, or on dusty ground, for their edges show little sign of wear. It is not yet known whether these objects were used in pairs, but two specimens found in the Dk Area [of Mohenjo-daro], not far from each other, are exactly the same size." (Marshall, Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, pp. 551-2) These terra-cotta dice are roughly 2cm cubes, and are dated between 1900-2500 BCE.

Gasing - Malaysia

Gasing from Malaysia.

Traditional sports for seniors - classes of the Institute for the Development of Sport and Education in Warsaw

Traditional sports and games are not only for children. They are also great as a type of physical recreation for older people.
On August 29, 2019, at the Vistula University Group in Warsaw, a group of about 60 people - students of the University of the Third Age - had the opportunity to take part in theoretical and practical classes in traditional sports and games.
It was led by an expert on traditional sports at the Institute of Sport Development and Education (Instytut Rozwoju Sportu i Edukacji) - dr Bartosz Prabucki.
During the lecture, the students learned, among others what are "traditional" sports, how to define them and how did the development of global interest in this subject look like by organizations such as UNESCO or the European Parliament. Importantly, seniors also learned about examples of traditional sports, their value and practical application. Polish sports, such as the pierścieniówka and kapele, enjoyed particular interest.
The exercise part is classes in the sports hall. The participants showed a great desire to learn about traditional sports and games: pierścieniówka and kapele. They also played in Swedish throw game - kubb.
The classes met with very positive reception from the students. Both during the lecture and during practical exercises they asked a lot of questions about the origin of traditional sports, their relationships with other games of this type or their current situation. They also gave examples of traditional sports known to them.

Tahtib - new article on

Tahtib is a sport already known in the time of the pharaohs. More about tahtib:


Mallakhamb (India), photo from the Umanath Hiremath collection.

Papegai or papegault

Papegai or papegault, depending on the region, is a word in old French that means bird, parrot. After the Crusades, when parrots were brought to Europe, it became fashionable to shoot these birds. Over time, the live animal was replaced by a bird made of wood or cardboard placed on top of a pole or pole, for bow or crossbow shooters, and then for musketeers. This sport also existed in other countries, e.g. in Scotland - Papingo Shooting, in England - Popinjay, in Denmark - Skyde Papegøjen, in the Netherlands - Papengoy.
In the picture: Archers in Avignon, 17th century.

"Dos Luchadores" de Cesare Fracanzano

"Dos Luchadores", de Cesare Fracanzano (Museo del Prado).


Evidence that curling existed in Scotland in the early 16th century includes a curling stone inscribed with the date 1511 found (along with another bearing the date 1551) when an old pond was drained at Dunblane, Scotland. The world's oldest curling stone and the world's oldest football are now kept in the same museum (the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum) in Stirling. The first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541. Two paintings, "Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap" and "The Hunters in the Snow" (both dated 1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Flemish peasants curling, albeit without brooms; Scotland and the Low Countries had strong trading and cultural links during this period, which is also evident in the history of golf.
The word curling first appears in print in 1620 in Perth, Scotland, in the preface and the verses of a poem by Henry Adamson. The sport was (and still is, in Scotland and Scottish-settled regions like southern New Zealand) also known as "the roaring game" because of the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble (droplets of water applied to the playing surface). The verbal noun curling is formed from the Scots (and English) verb curl, which describes the motion of the stone.


Kasagak- traninig.
Tokyo National Museum collection.

Franz Roubaud (1856-1928) - Playing Kokpar

Franz Roubaud (1856-1928) - Playing Kokpar

Ghe Ngo - traditional Khmer sport

A boat was an important element of the Khmers culture, who used it to navigate the waterway, avoiding wild animals. The waterway also solved the communication issue, as it was difficult to build and maintain roads and bridges in those conditions.
Over time, the boats became faster, which was caused, by tactics during the ethnic war and many conflicts. Tuk Ngo boats were created to escape or quickly attack. Therefore, the boat became an inseparable element of the life of people from these areas, as it was a method of transport used to transfer people and cargo.


Arrow maker, Ya-shi

Arrow maker, Ya-shi. From Shokunin Zukusi-zu Byoubu (Kita shrine collection), late 15th - early 16th century.


Burmese life 19th century

Watercolour painting by an unknown Burmese artist depicting 19th century Burmese life


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