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September 2002

Chilean Games

The way by which the members of a community show their ludic dimension is a loyal expression of identity's deepest aspects. Based on the work of different investigators, and writers as important as Alonso de Ercilla, Alonso Ovalle, Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna and Francisco Nuñez de Pineda.

Karen Miller, the daughter of the late folklore's investigator Oreste Plath, made, on the website dedicated to his life and work, a review of traditional Chilean games, from the practices of the "araucanos" to the tournaments from the Republican time.


Mora information, at: http://www.oresteplath.cl/criticas.html

Araucano Games
Most of mapuche games served as training for the children and preparation for the adults for the war. The horse races, ball games, the "chueca", "pilma", "linao", the sling and the lance, among others, were part of a physical training. The motive skills were exercised to imitate the movement of people, animals and birds, giving vigor to their dances.

There was also place for intellectual games, such as "comicán" (similar to chess). Agility and fortune took chances on the "taba" and the "tafan", through which more than once the mapuche social positions and the fate of war prisoners were bet. Cheers would go along with the game, expressing its magical and superstitious aspects.

Games from the Conquest time
The importance of horses during the Conquest time, when their value would be higher of that of a soldier, was followed by the "rodeo", a practice originated on the need of making a counting of the animals. The horse races with bets were the Spaniards' main hobby. The peasant would include the horse in most of his celebrations and games, such as the "rodeo", the "topeaduras", the taming, the threshing by mares and the "hair races" (no mount).


Games from the Colonial time
During the Colonial time, a Chilean game tradition was consolidated. Different horse games where then practiced. They would gather crowds; the same as with the cockfights, made on especially set places, called "reñideros". The Hispanic-indigenous and Hispanic-Chilean syncretism was visible on the practice of mapuche games such as the "chueca", the "taba" and others of such an ancient European tradition like "chapas", bowling and other bet games. The "rayuela", originally from Spain, also had great acceptance.

The stone wars between contestants from each side of the Mapocho River were famous, and observed by a crowd that would gather at Santiago's main promenade, the Tajamar. Games such as hide-and-seek, blind man's buff, "golden thread" and others (some typical names were "pimpín serafín", "otra esquina por ahí", "cordero sal de mi huerta") would fill the patios of the upper classes. The official game was the ball, Viscaino-style, brought by the Spaniards and practiced in especially built amphitheater, and then on ball fields set at the Institutes. Kites were also played on fields, the same as the rope.

The social hobbies were the strolls on carts, the forfeit games, the chess, checkers, Lottery, all played on halls and cafés, where one could also find a room for playing cards. Pool was introduced to Chile in 1812. Marbles, swings, diabolo, spinning top, "emboque" and "the greased stick" were other traditional games. The races of human wheelbarrows, jumping in sacks, football and other contests would appear during the celebration of Independence Day.

 

 
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