Traditional Games Mepantigan Bali

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Traditional Games

Traditional games are kinds of primordial play during the traditional holidays or the national calendar holidays, which are now held as ethno-cultural festivals and competitions. In addition, in the course of such events there are also performances of folk groups and fairs of handicraft and ethno-cuisine food.

The name "traditional games" appeared as a derivative of the concept of "traditional lifestyles", and is an integrant of the concepts of "traditional culture" and "traditional holidays".

Traditional games are held as part of the rituals and holidays of the traditional national calendar or traditional holidays, which are confined to the lunar and solar cycle and agricultural events throughout the year. Therefore, they fall under the same time frame for the majority of peoples dwelling in similar landscape and climatic zones. For the same reason, any attempts to move the dates of the traditional games are meaningless, because you cannot possibly have Shrovetide in December or July, Sabantuy in November or April, or Nowruz in September or January.

Participants of traditional games tend to use traditional costumes or some of their elements (capes, pants, hats, belts, shoes).

Classification of traditional games

Classification of traditional games is based on two signs – ethnic and calendar. Ethnic status of games (Russian, Yakut ones, and others) is defined by ritual and semiotic features. Calendar status of games is set by national holidays, in the course of which they are held. And this is their radical difference from sports, where the holiday is initially an absent structure.

The program of traditional games

The program of traditional games is established in accordance with the calendar and ethnic statuses. Competitions can be of two types:

1) Without identifying the winner (the so-called games for fun), historically known as "primordial play";

2) With identifying the winner, which we named "ethnosport." Ethnosport practice is based on the principles of customary law – the historically developed ways to evaluate results based on the traditional criteria. In contrast, the so-called "national sports" are deterministic in modern law with the procedural aspect, expressed in a specific metric of the adversarial process (point accrual and measurements of time).

Typology of the traditional games in the context of ethnosport theory is built along ethnic lines - for example, Russian ethnosport, Buryat ethnosport etc. In addition, for ease of integration into the existing sport classification, typology is also constructed according to the types of competition, presented by derivative (conditional) categories:

- Traditional combat (wrestling, cane combat, pugilism, weapon combat, mixed combat)
- Traditional gaming competitions (duels and team kinds)
- Traditional gymnastics and dance
- Traditional jumps (long and over the obstacle)
- Traditional logic games (abstract construction of figures, numbers, and letters)
- Traditional races (races, horse racing, sled riding, swimming, boat or raft rowing)
- Traditional shooting and throwing (a knife, axe, broom)
- Traditional tug and pulling (rope, sticks)
- Traditional weight lifting (stones, logs, sacks)

Criticism of forms of traditional games

Often, there is an attempt to present traditional games by way of holding complex competitions in the sporticized primordial kinds of play (the so-called national sports), but it is contradictory to their nature. Deprived of its ethnic component, primordial play with scoring and timekeeping, (which, moreover, nobody notifies about, because it is not generally accepted to use a placard at national holidays), look quite wild. In addition, competition of different peoples in isolation from their festive and ceremonial culture is contradictory to the idea of preservation of cultural diversity as well as the idea of sport, i.e. full unification of the adversarial process. World practice together with common sense show that traditional games should be conducted in full compliance with the folk customs, when the winner is the one who ran first, who put the opponent down on his back or forced him to touch the ground, who jumped higher or further, etc.

Development of traditional games

Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia is engaged in the development of traditional games as well as the Ethnosport World Society – on the global scale. In order to expand common cultural and professional competence of specialists of municipal, regional and state authorities and institutions in the field of culture, sports, education and international relations, the "Traditional games and holidays" further education course program has been developed. It is being implemented in a number of universities in the country with the participation of the Traditional Games and Ethnosport Federation of Russia.

Author: A.V. Kylasov


1. Kylasov A.V. Methodology and terminology of Ethnosport // Bulletin of Sport Science, 2011.

2. Kylasov A.V. Ethnosport Theory, 2012.

3. Kylasov A.V. Traditional games and ethnosport: general classification // Theory and Practice of Physical Culture, 2014. 

Relative topics:

Питер Брейгель, «Игры детей»


Lusorica is the game heritage of humanity (Lat. Lusorica, from the root of the word ludus/lusus – ‘game’ and the collective suffix). Lusorica is the name we gave to the Game Encyclopedia, which is being published on the pages of "Ethnosport" – our online journal.

Traditional Games Mepantigan Bali

Traditional Games

Traditional games are kinds of primordial play during the traditional holidays or the national calendar holidays, which are now held as ethno-cultural festivals and competitions.



Ethnosport is a form of preservation of the game heritage; it is a system of recovery of the ethnomotricité skills, inherent in the traditional way of life and lost in the conditions of urbanization.

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