International Festival of Street Games

by Bernard De Koven

Every year, in September, the citizens of Verona conduct a “festival of traditional street games” called the Tocatì festival.

Here, courtesy of the festival organizers, some photos and all-too-brief descriptions of what looks like a major celebration of traditional games.

Mexican rope skipping

ROPE SKIPPING – Tiàoshéng

Taiwan

The rope skipping has it roots in the jump rope game. The jumps are made with a particular type of rope or ropes and can be made by individuals, couples, groups, with different choreographies. The rules of the skipping rope practiced in Taiwan are different from international ones.

In the 70s the government of Taiwan gave the rope skipping the status of national traditional game. The first national competition took place in September 1976 in Tainan City. In 2003 the National Rope Skipping Association was founded to participate in such international events.

 

Mexican ball game

Ulama de Cadera

Mexico

Ulama is a ball game. The playing field measures 50 meters long and 4 wide and is divided by a center line called “Analco”. The players, called “Taures”, are 5 per team and placed in the two halves of the field respectively. The goal is to make the point on the opposite side passing the ball with the sole use of the hips. The ball has the weight of 4 kg and it is made in natural rubber. The team that reaches 8 points wins. The game is controlled by one or two referees who are positioned on the side of the center line.

The game of ‘Ulama is part of one of the most deeply rooted cultural traditions within the Mexican community, particularly in the state of Sinaloa. There are three variants of the game: Ulama de Antebrazo, Ulama con Mazo and Ulama de Cadera. The origin of this game is to be attributed to the ancient “Ullamaliztli”, Aztec name of the game of ball played in Mesoamérica. There are artifacts such as rubber balls dating back to 1600 BC.

 

Iranian game

Zurkhaneh

Iran

The Zurkhaneh itself is an octagonal pit about 1m deep with a floor of clay soil in which athletes train for Pahlevan. In contrast to gymnastics practiced in the West, the exercises consist of team sports that combine tests of physical strength and flexibility, specific rituals, and respect for traditional moral and ethical rules. The game of Pahlevan changes to keep pace with the sound of a drum played by the morshed or guide, who is typically seated in an elevated position within the hall.

 

Spanish game

P’ZZ’CANTO’

Basilicata (Italy)

The number of participants is usually a group of thirteen people who form human pyramids by following a pattern that contemplates three floors consisting of 7 + 4 + 2 players. At the heart of the human pyramids is placed a wooden pole the pizzicantari cling to. The tower turns and moves along a hundred meters. To give a rhythm in the swirling, players sing, inciting each other not to lose balance. Who gives up cause the collapse of the tower: “the blow”.

The human tower is practiced in Spain; it spreads in south-central Italy during the Spanish domination. In Basilicata, the tower was first composed of 6 persons. The great interest in this ancient tradition has led to the creation of the International Festival of Human Towers at Irsina, where proposals are not just representations of the human towers, but also conferences and concerts.

Spinning tops game from Italy

PIRLÌ

Lombardy (Italy)

The game is played on special wooden tables, equipped with banks and with a glass top on which small pins are placed. For each shot, each player rolls the string up from the bottom to Pirlì (top) and pulls it. Every player is entitled to four shots. Only the scores of the three highest are counted.

The game was born at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Ancestor of modern pinball machine, it endured until the ‘90s, but since then it was almost lost. Thanks to the Cooperativa l’Innesto ed il Comitato di Trate, the recreational use of this game has been relaunched and is celebrated at the Pirlì provincial championship games.


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