GAMES OF YESTERYEAR
Title: Games of Yesteryear
Date: 20 October 2017 to 30 June 2018
Venue: Changing Gallery, Singapore Sports Museum
Traditional games and sports are activities that serve to bind intimate human associations into larger, more abstract entities. Games and sports have two universal characteristics – they are contested and they have rules. Games and sports are as invaluable as other oral or written traditions when it comes to heritage in the Southeast Asian region.
Traditional games of the Southeast Asian region have managed to transcend social divides and contributed to the uniqueness of Singapore’s cultural heritage. Though simple, these games have cultural and social value as they encouraged children to exercise innovativeness and helped develop their social skills, especially in fostering team spirit in school and in the neighbourhood. Traditional games also serve as a culture-creating activity; where one can gain an understanding of the culture by simply observing the nature of these games.
Most traditional games of Singapore were adapted from indigenous games found in Southeast Asia. Games like congkak, capteh, gasing and others are still commonly played in communities in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Most of the games and sports featured here are indigenous to the people of this region and serve as forms of recreation, entertainment and education.
This exhibition aims to provide a glimpse of some of the games played in yesteryears and hope to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the generation of “veteran” players to rekindle their interest and pass on the tradition of these games to the next generation.
Gasing or top spinning is a traditional game of the Malays and was a popular pastime and recreation among children and adults alike that lived in villages. In Singapore, however, its popularity declined as more and more people moved to public housing.
Congkak is a game for two players using a board which has several holes carved out. The word congkak refers to the cowrie shells used in the game but is also believed to originate from the old Malay word meaning ‘mental calculation’ which is an asset in the game.
3. Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw (or was better known as Sepak Raga) was originally played for recreation and has since evolved into a competitive sport. The game was initially common only to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei but has also gained popularity in other Southeast Asian countries. Sepak is the Malay word for kick and takraw is the Thai word for woven ball. Therefore, sepak takraw literally means to kick ball.