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Mancala Game Board

Arts of Africa

Mancala is one of the world's oldest games and is widely played in Africa. This board, like most, has twelve holes and two large cups to hold each player's game pieces. The figurative carvings, however, are rare, and the board's boat shape reflects the importance of canoes to the Bidjogo. Mancala reflects ideas about how society is organized: the board may represent either the village or the universe; the holes are called "houses" or "villages"; and the playing pieces, which are moved around the board, are called "men," "wives," "children," or "cattle."

CULTURE Possibly Bullom
  • Place Made: Guinea-Bissau
  • DATES 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 8 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (21 x 59.1 x 13 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Possibly Bullom. Mancala Game Board, 19th century. Wood, 8 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (21 x 59.1 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.239. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 22.239_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object is a boat-shaped board with 12 playing cups and one triangular "capture" cup at either end. The playing area stands on a rectangular box which originally held playing seeds. The two ends are supported by a pair of male figures with ringed necks. The proper left leg of one of the figures is missing.
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