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Evidence for Motiq

1 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.743
Type Ethnography
Location Lembata
Date 1975-01-01 - 1975-12-31
Rules 2x7 board. Four counters in each hole. Sowing occurs in an anti-clockwise direction and begins from one of the holes in the player's row. When the final counter lands in an occupied hole, these are picked up and sowing continues. If the occupied hole has three counters (four including the final counter from the sowing), these are captured. Then, the player picks up the counters in the next hole after the one from which the capture was made and continues sowing from there. When the final counter lands into an empty hole the turn ends. The game ends when one player no longer has any counters on their side of the board. The opponent then captures the remaining counters on the board. A new game begins, with each player filling holes with the counters they captured, four to each hole. The player now controls as many holes as they can fill with counters. Play begins with the player who played second in the previous game. Subsequent games are played until one player captures all of the holes, becoming the winner.
Content "These comparative questions will be taken up later, after the following description. I was taught to play the game by Molan Baia, a man in his fifties and a leading elder of his clan, Laong Hodiq, who was one of my most constant companions and closest friends. This happened early in my second year, at a time when the larger connections in the culture, which had until then remained hidden to me, began to make their appearance; and indeed the discovery of motiq, as the game is called, was an early impulse toward the coalescing of my understanding of K?dang culture. For several weeks then the village was slightly amused watching Molan and myself, as well as whoever else joined in, squatting in the dust and deeply engaged in a game that was a little less than suited to our customary dignity. The general name for the game is motiq. I do not know if this word has any other meaning. The general phrase for play of any kind, huang, is not connected directly with the game. To play this game is pan motiq, and pan means "to travel" or "move", a phrase not far removed in meaning from the Arabic manqala. Motiq is played in two versions, each with a name of its own. The first and more common version is ka ia or "eat fish". Here there are two parallel lines of seven holes each, and the game starts with four stones (or seeds) in each hole. These holes are either dug in the ground, or (as one occasionally, but very rarely, sees) the game may be played on a board in which holes are cut. There are two players, and each player owns the holes in the row closest to him. Each row represents a human body and each hole is associated with a part of the body, as in figure 1. The object of play is to capture stones. They are moved from hole to hole circularly through the rows, always in a counter-clockwise direction according to the native injunction to travel to the right, wana pan. It is never allowed to reverse this direction. A player may begin with any hole on his own side, but never with a hole in the opponent's row. He picks up the stones in one hole and distributes them, one each, in the next four. He then takes the five stones in the last of these holes and distributes them one by one in the next five, and so on. Eventually, it begins to be possible to end with one's last stone in a group of three. When this occurs, the player takes all four and sets them aside as his winnings before continuing play. It works out mathematically that the first to move always ends his play in the hole from which he started. He picks up four stones and puts them one each in the next consecutive holes. He then picks the five in the last hole and lays them down. Again he picks up five and lays them down. Four plus five plus five equal fourteen, and the last stone lands in the hole from which he began. Since this hole is empty before this last stone is placed there, he cannot pick up the stones in it; his hand is empty and he is mat?, "dead". It is then the opponent's turn. This first play leaves two empty holes. Already at this point an experienced player may exercise strategy in his play. If the opponent picks up the stones just behind one of these empty holes, he will eventually (after several rounds) gain four stones on two occasions, and his play will then end. However, he will leave one hole for the first player containing nine stones, and if these are picked up, the first player will, after a much longer series, himself capture the stones in two holes. These are mathematical certainties, which all experienced players know about. The whole exchange can be prevented if on the very first play of the game, the first player takes the stones from the "head" hole because the relevant empty hole will land on his side. It will, in fact, be the "shin" hole. The hole right behind it, (his "foot") will also be on his side, so his opponent will not be allowed to start there. When a player's last stone lands in a group of three and he captures all four, the player is said to ka ia, "eat fish". He gets, figuratively, a meal of fish. Consequently, when a group of three appears during the play they attract attention as ia, "fish", which potentially may be "eaten" before they are covered up by the play; i.e., before the player with more than the requisite number of stones in his hand fills it up by adding a stone in passing beyond it. Although in this case it has four, it is not won by the player because he must play beyond it, and it becomes closed like other holes with any number of stones other than three: it is for the time being no longer a potential fish. The player who is fortunate enough to land with a final stone in a hole with a group of three, and thus "eats fish", then, after setting aside his winnings, takes the stones in the next consecutive hole and plays on until he too lands with a final stone in an empty hole and is dead. The turn changes, and the game proceeds by alternating turns in this way. Eventually the stones will begin to be scarce and the point will be reached where the players are in danger of moving their few stones on to the opponent's side without having any left on their own. This marks the beginning of the end game. The strategy at this point becomes to move the stones which by chance are on one's side as slowly as possible, hoping to force the opponent to move all of his stones on to one's own side before moving any more on to his. One hopes simultaneously to avoid the same fate. This stage is usually of short duration and one or the other soon fails. All stones remaining on the board are the winnings of the player who can hold out longest. This round of the game is then over. The players count the stones they have won to see who has the most. Unless they are both even (i.e., twenty-eight to a side), there is always an advantage which is a multiple of four. Four stones represent a hole. The player on the disadvantage loses, for the next round, the number of holes correspond ing to the quotient of the number of stones he is behind divided by four. In short, one loses and gains holes, not stones. At each new play, the opening player is the one who was second in the previous set. The play begins again with (except in the event of a tie) one player with fewer, one with more, holes. The holes gained or lost are removed from the foot end. The last consecutive hole gained becomes the new head for the more fortunate player. All fourteen holes are always in play, with one player gaining more, another losing, holes. The two figures then shrink and expand according to the fortunes of the play; i.e., they become shorter or taller. It gives one a tactical advantage in the play to have more holes; for one can only begin with a hole in one's own territory and in the play one chooses to start from that hole which promises to be most productive. Although it is possible to recover ground, the more one falls behind the more difficult it becomes to maintain one's position. If after several rounds, one player is able to consume the opponent's territory to the point of capturing his head, the game is finished. As can be seen the game can be absorbingly interesting, and an experienced player will learn to recognize certainties in the probable course of the play according to the way the stones lie, in the same way that an experienced cribbage player no longer needs to count the cards in his hand but knows what it is worth and what can be done with it at a glance." Barnes 1975: 73-76.
Confidence 100
Source Barnes, R. 1975. "Mancala in Kédang: A Structural Test." Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 131(1): 67-58.

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