Barcelona 2002 Colloquium

--{ Barcelona 2002 }--

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Board Games in Academia V


Maurício de Araújo Lima

From India to Minas Gerais/Brazil: oral memory and traces of the Portuguese route

Cows and Leopards x Jaguars and Dogs: a case study.

"Origem" is a Brazilian company working with games. Some time ago we were visited by someone who brought us a handmade sketch of the board of a game played in the south of the state of Minas Gerais, the rules of which had only been kept by oral tradition. The game is called "Jaguar and Dogs", and in it one of the players moves a piece which represents a jaguar and this piece must capture 4 dogs in order to win the game. The player who has the dogs must fence in the jaguar.

The design of the board resembles an East Indian board game "Cows and Leopards" where the rules are also similar. Equal game are also found in Europe such as "Fox and Geese", and in North America as, for example, among the indians of the Cree and Chippewz tribes.

The south of the state of Minas Gerais was colonized by immigrants and these included Danish settlers who might have brought this game according to their tradition in playing "Fox and the Geese". On the other hand, the game may have been transmitted by oral tradition of the indians who inhabited the region before the arrival of the Europeans.

However, the fact that the board game is similar to the East Indian game and not to the European game, and also considering that the indians had never been acquainted to dogs before the arrival of the Europeans, seems to indicate that the game was introduced in Brazil through the Portuguese via their possession in India. This hipothesis is reinforced by the fact that these were the people who brought dogs to Brazil.

Tales such as these induce one to research into the history of mankind through the origin of board games and to develop them worldwide. In this specific case, the existence of such similar games adapted to the reality of each region, leads to a question that seems to be connected to the Collective Unconscious of various cultures: could the weak united x the lonely powerful be an archetype in the 3 continents?

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