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Cat's Cradle and Other String Games

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Continued from product description on Traditional Games' Page Four...

Historical Background: String games such as Cat's Cradle have been played around the world for thousands (if not millions) of years. It does not appear that this game has a particular origin; rather, it was developed independently by many cultures around the same time. Anthropologists began studying string games between 1880 and 1900. During the 1890s, two anthropologists -- Dr. Alfred C. Haddon and Dr. W.H. Rivers -- invented a language to use when describing string games which made collecting and documenting string games easier. Other anthropologists continue to use this language in their travels.

It seems that string figures were familiar to most native inhabitants of East Asia, Australia, Africa, the Arctic, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. Some string games might even be from the Stone Age! Since actual "string" was not available in most of these regions, people used native sources like sinew or leather, twine made from bark, Hibiscus tree fiber, or even braided human hair.

Each culture seems to have its own names for similar string figures. The names of the figures can tell us much about these cultures -- what was important to them spiritually, what kind of animals they had, what pictures they saw in the stars at night, and other significant beliefs. Some string games even included stories. String figures were used for fun most of the time, but other times they were used as good luck charms or to chase away "bad spirits."

Most string games are played with one or two pairs of hands, but some people have been known to use their toes, knees, elbows, and mouth. They can create some fabulous string patterns!

If you become a serious string game enthusiast or are just a little more curious, check out the International String Figure Association (ISFA), which was founded in 1978 by Hiroshi Noguchi, a Japanese mathematician, and Philip Noble, an Anglican missionary, stationed in Paupa, New Guinea.

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Cat's Cradle and Other String Games
Cat's Cradle and Other String Games
Item Number 3014

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