From Atlas Etnográfico de Vasconia
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This chapter includes all those games where throwing an object is an essential part. Those games are organised according to the type of object that is thrown or the material of which it is made. Thus, different entertainment related to throwing stones are first included; along with the well-known "Tapulero", when clay is used to make the bowl for the game; and a widespread and varied game that had many different names, some of which are “Al calderón”, “Al pilocho” and "Txirikilan”, which involves the participants throwing a stick with a sharp point with the help of a longer one.

The next group consists of the games when a small object is thrown: acorns, seeds, marbles, coins, matchbox lids, cards and bottle tops. Those games are also grouped according to the material used: however, regardless of the type of object, the different modalities are common to all of them. The only difference between the games using acorns, seeds and marbles are the objects used, as they changed throughout the 20th century but the games remained practically the same. Even the marbles have evolved in terms of the materials used and the modern ones are now made of glass. These are followed by the games using bottle tops, which are very different from the above ones. Then there are those related to throwing balls and, finally, a game that was very popular in the past which consisted of throwing up an empty can using the inflammable properties of the gas given off by the damp carbide.

It will be noticed in this chapter that two groups of games are missing: bowls and Basque pelota. The reason is that their rules are usually similar to the modalities played by adults and will consequently be considered in the volume on the games of the latter. The bowls played by children have certain specific characteristics, such as using smaller and lower quality bowls and which are sometimes improvised. The most widespread Basque pelota game is the one commonly known as “A primis” or “Primika”. Basically, it consists of the child managing to have reached the final single-handedly as they not have committed a single fault when returning the ball, after having managed to eliminate all their opponents, and the child obtains a primi or life that allows them to commit an error in the following match without having to stop the game.

Given its interest, we should mention the game called “Botülüzea[1] found in Altzai (Ip) that seems to have played for a very long time and is the forerunner of other Basque pelota games. Cursorily, the way of playing the game, as has been established, is as follows: The court could be the town square and a flat field, soro ordokian. There are usually two people on each team, biga eta biga, up to a maximum of five per team. In each field, there was a flat stone to bounce the ball on when serving. It was sometimes wrapped in a cloth, ohialez. The game was played in a similar way to tennis, but hitting the ball with their hand. The person serving had two opportunities to do so, in other word, if there was a fault in their first attempt, it was not bad, lehena gaixtoari. The game was played to 25 or 30 points. Typical expressions used on the Basque pelota court were: “jo!” (hit it), “hire” (yours), “eni” (mine) and “paso” (pass). After the team won the match, the opponents had the opportunity of arrabaja (rematch) and in the case of a draw the playoff, lilia, was played.

Those games using balls are not included, if as they are sports, they are governed by universally accepted rules; even though some of them, such as football, have been widely played by children right from the start.

  1. A more extensive description of this game can be found, among other publications, in E. BLAZY. La Pelote Basque. Bayonne: 1921, pp. 186-190.