“Playing” is always one of the hobbies of humans and one of the activities that could bring children and adults closer together and link them up. Iranian Local Games are exactly that kind of Games!
The GOT; Game Of Tourists
We see very well that in the tourist events a variety of local activities, such as music, dance, cooking, handicrafts and … are displayed. But Iranian local games are out of place. This is necessary to introduce these indigenous games to tourists and involve them to play that. Due to the fact that many Iranian traditions, arts and thoughts have been featured in these games.
Iranians have many common games and also specific games have been designed and played in different parts of Iran, due to the climatic and ethnic diversity of Iran. There are about 150 types of games in Iran that unfortunately we have forgotten many of them over years. The UNESCO has been particularly dedicated to the revival of local and national games in different countries, and it shows the importance of this issue. Here are some Iranian Local Games to introduce;
“Oh mill! Turn round!” The game is comparable to performing arts, too. The children, first, take one another’s hands, and form a loop. One takes the role of the leader (Ostād). They sing; the following is a rough translation of the song: Leader: Oh mill! Turn round! / Group: I will. They circle starts turning, till the time they start to lose their control and the circle is about to break. Leader: Oh mill! Sit down! / Group: I will. / And they sit down.
Then they continue with the following sung dialogue: Leader: Oh mill! Stand up!. / Group: I won’t. / Leader: For the aunt’s sake; / Group: I won’t. / Leader: For the aunt’s sake; / Group: I won’t. / Leader: (For the sake of) The trunk lock; / Group: I won’t. / Leader: For god’s sake; / Group: I will. Then they continue: /Leader: Oh mill! Go to sleep! / Group: I will. And the group members sleep by closing their eyes. / Leader: Oh mill! Make a chair! / Group: I will. And they lift a leg, and pretend that they are sitting on a chair. Finally: Leader: Oh mill! Turn round! And they all turn round. Then they add to their speed, by calling: – Oh mill! Make it faster! Faster! Faster!
Popular throughout Iran, the game enjoys specific rules for every region. The players are divided into two teams, and the starters are elected. The leader of the first team (the starters) uses a, roughly, one-meter long wooden stick (Dolak) to throw a smaller stick (Alak) toward the competing team; then he leaves the Dolak at the place where he has hit the Alak. Members of the other team try to grab the Alak in the air: such an achievement defines them as the winners, and the teams change their places.
If the Alak drops, this time a member of the second team takes it and throws it toward the Dolak; the starter’s Captain must hit the Alak in the air, and if he doesn’t succeed, he must give his place to another team member to continue. The members of the team of winners, then, take turns to hit the Alak with the Dolak in the air, to guide it to as farther a place as they can. After the last member, then it is the duty of the losers to carry the winners on their backs, from this place to the starting point.
Also called Yek-lenge-pā, Alakhtarak, Varmāzā, or Khorus Jangi in various parts of Iran, the simple game consists of grouping the players in the form of two competing teams, each having its own captain. Each captain, chooses and sends his team members, one by one, to the ground.
The two selected players must stand on one leg, and grab the other in one hand, and try to force the rival to lose balance and fall down. Keeping the same position, the winner must move toward the other team members and reach them; if he is unable to do so, he, too, will be announced as loser. The final winners are the members of that team who are able to send more members toward the competing team. A variety of the game, chooses a member as Dāmād (“bridegroom”), and it is the bridegroom who has the responsibility of reaching the other team.
Bālā-bonandi constitutes a game for younger children (the word meaning “remaining on raised spots”). Popular Called Gorg (“wolf”) an individual is elected to run after the others to catch them. When it is felt that the Gorg is approaching, the player being followed tries to stand on a raised spot (it may have been predetermined); the Gorg can not catch them unless when they are back down.
The one who is caught, changes places with the Gorg. The players recite folk songs to make fun of the Gorg, while taking care not to be trapped. Conveyed into English, one such song reads as: Oh Gorg! Don’t you ever be lazy, Oh, my dear! Don’t you ever remain alone. On smooth open fields, circles of squares depicted on the ground may function as raised points.
The players bend down for the others to jump over them. They take turns. The game consists of 12 stages, consisting of the jumper’s uttering specific sentences, or performing comic movements, or doing a skill. The first three jumpers, jump when they utter some sentences; the fourth jumper utters the sentence and hits with a blow; the fifth person puts a stone on the back of the player who has bent; the sixth player jumps with one hand and grabs the mentioned stone; the seventh, eighth, and ninth players may press, stop, or shake while jumping; the tenth practitioner puts a hat on the back of the player; the eleventh jumps in a way that the hat does not fall down; and, finally, the twelfth player jumps, grabs the hat, and throws it up in the air.
Observing this, they all run away. The person who has bent down, takes the hat. He, then, turns round himself for three times, and starts following the other players and throws the hat at them. The one who is hit with the hat must bend down, and the game phases are repeated. There are regional varieties for the game, with their specific rules.
Tornā-bāzi (a game with belts) is popular among almost all of the nomadic and rural communities of Iran. The players are divided into two teams, and one team is elected to remain inside a circle depicted on the ground. The circle is surrounded by the members of the other team.
The belts are arranged on the circle, with their heads pointing toward the center. Each of the players inside the circle puts his foot on his own belt, and prevents the rivals to take it, while trying to hit their legs with his own leg, to force them lose the game. The rivals, in turn, try to steel the belts, or to pull the other team members out of the circle. With the stolen belts, the competing team tries to hit the other team members’ legs, to force them away, to steel more belts. The two teams, then, change places.