search instagram arrow-down

Recent Posts


Top Posts & Pages

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,631 other subscribers


Thanks for Freshly Pressing me again!!

Freshly Pressed

Blog Stats

Blogs I Follow

Blog Stats

And again! Thank you to all who follow and support me!!

While living in Indonesia, I often wandered outside the gates of our compound into the Kampung or villages that thrived beyond my fence. I loved watching the children, frightfully poor but impeccably clean and happy. If I were traveling across the island or visiting other areas, I  took time out to photograph the local kids. Inevitably they would be gathered around a lively game of Congklak. If no board were available, they would dig small holes in the ground and collect pebbles to use as playing pieces.

Congklak is an ancient game with origins in either Africa or the Arab world, there seems to be some dispute. It may be the oldest board game in the world with the first evidence uncovered by a National Geographic excavation in Jordan dating back to 7,000 to 5,000 BC. Though I hadn’t encountered it before, I have since seen it advertised as Mancala, the name derived from the Arabic work meaning “to move.” The playing surface is made up of a series of holes; the number varying from culture to culture. Some boards have 5, 6, or 7 holes, but the majority  I saw had 7 holes plus the “home hole” on each end. Cowrie shells were used in villages near the coast, stones or pebbles in the city, seeds in the country. I purchased my board from a village near Yogyakarta in Central Java. It is simple, made of a light, porous wood accompanied by a bag of shells.


Museums displayed  elegantly carved and painted Congklak boards with dragons on each end resembling double-ended dug out canoes. It was thought that Arab traders brought the game and it adapted with local traditions. When I first encountered a group of kids playing, the action was so fast I couldn’t keep up with the play and had no idea what the rules were. I spoke a proficient version of street slang and soon had my own coach as the kids crowded around to watch me learn. It proved trickier than I thought. The complete rules are here, you can make up your own variations as I soon found out with the kids. As I became more proficient,  I would saunter up to a game and in my best Bahasa Indonesian challenge the winner to a round. Once the surprise wore off, I was admitted to the game. If they were shocked  to see me in their village and speaking their language, they were still bright enough to spot a chance to win a few coins.

5 comments on “The Game of Stones

  1. Touring NH says:

    Looks a lot more complicated than Go Fish lol


    1. True Laura but how interesting that it appears through history all over the world!


  2. That’s interesting. I’ve seen these boards but never knew how it was played.


  3. Appreciate the information – had seen the boards, but no clue as to what/how it was played. The game history is fascinating


    1. Thanks for scampering by, Phil! Let the games begin.


Love to know what you are thinking! And thank you for commenting.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Pragma Synesi - interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Putnam, in the studio and beyond

Reflections and ruminations in Education, Beauty, Art and Philosophy

Badfish & Chips Cafe

Travel photos, memoirs & letters home...from anywhere in the world

The city of adventure

From there to back again (usually on a bike)

Nolsie Notes

My stories, observations, and art.

Shellie Troy Anderson


Oh, the Places We See . . .

Never too old to travel!

The Task at Hand

A Writer's On-Going Search for Just the Right Words

Going to Seed in Zones 5b-6a

The Adventures of Southern Gardeners Starting Over in New England

I Walk Alone

The World One Step At A Time

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Susan's Musings

Whimsical Stuff from a Writer's Mind

Travels with Choppy

A dog and cat in clothing. Puns. Travel. Bacon. Not necessarily in that order. News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

A Sawyer's Daughter

The Life & Times of a Sawmill Man's Eldest Child

On The Heath

where would-be writer works with words

The adventures of timbertwig in the forest of Burnley and the Rossendale Valley

crafts, permaculture, forest management, self employment, cycling


Time to change, live, encourage and reflect.


Bring new life to your garden!

The Grey Enigma

Help is not coming. Neither is permisson. -

Ethereal Nature

The interface of the metaphysical, the physical, and the cultural

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

Kindness Blog

Kindness Changes Everything

Crazy Green Thumbs

Chronicling a delusional gardening experience.

New Hampsha' Bees

Raising bees holistically in New Hampshire

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

Therapeutic Misadventures

Daily musings on life after 60 & recreating oneself

valeriu dg barbu

©valeriu barbu

Writing Out Loud

A Place of Observation

cancer killing recipe

Inspiration for meeting life's challenges.

Archon's Den

The Rants & Rambles of A Grumpy Old Dude


Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. Kurt Vonnegut

Once upon a time... I began to write

My journey in writing a novel

Not a Day Over 45

A View from Mid-Life

Sharon Hewitt Rawlette, PhD


Diana Tibert

~ I write -

White Shadows

Story of a white pearl that turned to ashes while waiting for a pheonix to be born inside her !

At Home in New Hampshire

Living and Writing in the North East


Two rare, life-threatening diseases that led to a bone marrow transplant and a snappy Buttkick List



International Cowgirl Blog

%d bloggers like this: