Ornate vintage Mancala / Bao / Congkak piece container.


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Mancala is a game which is played across the globe in one variation or another. It has as many different names as the countries it is played in although all the games involve moving a number of pieces around depressions in a board and capturing the opponents pieces. Evidence of the game dates back over 1300 years with old pit marks carved into stones in Ethiopia.

This container was used to keep all a players pieces together as they would be easily lost. I do not know which country this container originates from although I think that it may be from Oceania or Papua New Guinea.

The container appears to be made of bamboo to create the flask. This has then had a base, a removable lid and two ornamental rings added. The decoration has been either carved or hammered slightly into the surface as the lighter coloured decoration is slightly raised from the background. The removable lid has a stylised dolphin mounted on top. The container is 25cm tall to the top of the dolphin and 9cm outside diameter and 6.3cm inside diameter.

There are 98 pieces with the container made from a variety of materials. There are quite a number of smoothed stones and a good number of clay balls, some of which have been painted. Some of the clay pieces have been well played with as they have quite a few dings and scrapes evident. There is even one metal one. I think that the pieces have been collected over many years and probably passed down from one generation to the next.



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