XVI. DIFFERENT GAMES. CHILDREN’S COLLECTING
The main problem regarding the gathering and subsequent organising of the data on children’s play is precisely how to coherently classify that information. The information is this volume seeks to follow as far as possible the survey conducted by José Miguel de Barandiaran, as that was the criteria used to gather the ethnographic material.
The problem lies in each children’s game being a complex entity consisting of numerous elements that simultaneously are in line with more than one of the proposed chapters. Even so, we have sought to organise the data, more or less successfully, as that was necessary to consolidate the findings and would also facilitate the task of subsequently finding the information.
Yet there is a set of games, entertainment and diversions that despite having their own entity are so diverse and so different from the ones described in the previous chapters, it would be arbitrary to classify them in those section. Those games are the ones described below.
Noughts and crosses. Artzain-jokoa
This game is played on a square grid made up of two lines running horizontally and intersecting the two vertical lines, which make up the boxes in the grid. A small circle used to be drawn at each of the intersection points of the lines.
Two players take part, each of which have three small objects such a type of seed or similar and usually just peddles. In Narvaja (A) and Eugi (N), they remember having played with three sticks instead of stones. The items each player uses must be different in appearance or in size so they are not confused when playing. The usual methods are used to decide which of the players will start first. That player will place their first pebble in the centre of the square, when all the lines cross. This is the only piece that they cannot move again. The other player puts one of their pieces in any of the eight remaining positions and the two players alternate until the six pieces have been played. The game consists of each player positioning their pieces to form a line and thus stop their opponent managing to do so first. The winner is in charge of starting the new game.
Table games. Mahai jokoak.
Card games. Kartetan
When children play cards, they play the same games as adults: sometimes they are commonplace games such as Brisca, Tute, Crazy Sizes, Sette e Mezzo, etc.; however, others are local versions of games. Other entertainment would be playing games considered to be for children, even though adults would sometimes join in. Traditionally, card games would usually be played in winter and particularly at Christmas.
Fighting games. Gatazkak
This section includes games where the players test their strengthen, usually in pairs and “arming wrestling” in different ways. There was also fighting, with rules as far as possible, and fights, with no rules and which often degenerated into real battles, in close combat or including throwing objects as if they were weapons. Stone throwing was precisely the most popular tactic between the gangs of a village or from different villages.
The most common way of “arm-wrestling” begins with two children sitting at a table or on either side of a more or less flat surface, placing their elbows on it and grasping the opponent’s hand. Once the starting order is given, each player pushes the arm of their opponent to try and make the latter touch the table’s surface with their hand. They are not allowed to use their other hands or to stand up.
Games with sand, water and in the sea
One of children’s favourite ways of playing is with soil and particularly with sand. Using the piles of that material used for building work, the children dig out tunnels and holes, make houses, castles, walls, etc. There are even more possibilities playing with sand on the beach and the children also stained cleaner.
Another children’s form of entertainment consists of making dams with earth, stones, sticks and other materials to stop the water in the streams when it rains.
Children living in coastal settlements have another option for their games, the sea. Children living inland can play in the rivers and reservoirs, and more recently in swimming pools, but those environments never offer as many possibilities as the beach or harbour.
Children start collecting in a basic and indiscriminate way and that then takes shape as they get older and begin to focus on specific items. By the time they are teenagers, the collecting is more systematic as the focus on a set of items, such stamps, coins or postcards.
The survey results show that children’s love of collecting became progressively complicated during the century, with many of the collections dating back to the mid-20th century.
A similar evolution can be seen here as that seen for toys, as they were initially made up of simple elements, sometimes taken directly from nature, and showed little complexity even when manufactured,
Children collect practically anything that shows a certain variability when belonging to a single class.
However, a difference needs to be made between the items that are just accumulated and those that are collected. The first are usually identical or very similar and are used in games when losers find themselves stripped of the items and therefore have to stockpile them. This is the case of iturris or bottle tops, marbles, conkers, etc. However, the second type are usually collected for no other purpose than to own them.
The accumulated objects could be used as a means of trading and the children therefore needed to have a certain amount of them. They were used to pay their playmates when the child lost a game. If they wanted to continue playing, they needed to have more of that currency and children spent part of their pocket money to buy those items.
A certain gender differentiation can be seen in children’s collections. Boys and girls do not always collect the same types of items. In some cases, certain differences can be seen particularly when the items collected are used for certain games. For example, young boys prefer marbles or iturris, while girls opt for cut out dolls or small stickers.
That influence can also be seen in the sticker collections. Boys choose footballers, cyclists or similar, when girls are more attracted by stickers with animals, clothes, floral motifs, etc.