Indonesian Children Games-What We Did For Fun Before The Computer (via The Biz of Pacelinebiz)

I found this post when I browse through the not-so-old Freshly Pressed this afternoon, and I’m thinking of games that I’m playing when I was a kid. It was fun, really. My friends and I are still playing those games even up to now, but you can count the frequency with only one hand.

I completely agree with this post, that ever since the computer and the internet was invented, now little kids from the computer and the internet generation prefer to be inside the house, play what’s available for them in the internet and the computer. Sakes, what else did they create educational games for?

But as I see how different the kids from younger generations, and kids from my generation (boy, I feel so old already!), I can’t help but feel at least a bit sorry for them.

During my childhood, I watched TV programs for children which were created by Indonesians, developed by Indonesians, and delivered in Bahasa Indonesia. My people, my language.

I used to watch this one TV program which involves a puppet show. I forgot the name of the program already, but the puppets represent Indonesian people, and if I had not mistaken, all of the characters are Javanese. And it tells a story of this guy named “Unyil” and and the neighborhood where he lived in. Everyday, there’s always a problem in the neighborhood–gossip, scandal, name it–and most of the time, they would seek for an advice from an elder in the neighborhood called “Pak Raden.” (FYI, ‘pak’ is an Indonesian word for Mr., and is usually used to address an older man.) Then with his wisdom, this pak Raden would solve the problem, or give his advice and let the society solve the problem by themselves.

Si Unyil (left) and Pak Raden (right)

Or this child TV news program, which I forget the name as well, where the anchor girl and boy are kids of about 7-12 year-old. That’s just my guess, though. I can’t really tell how old those kids were.

Anyway, what I actually meant to do is to the name of the games I used to play when I was a kid. The list might not be as long as the one in pacelinebiz’s blog, though, and the games could be a different one, but anyway, here’s the list:

(Do forgive me, though, for I actually need to google for the names of the games since I barely remember them, and that most of the explanations would be a translation from Indonesian Wikipedia and

  1. 'Semut' means 'ant.'

    Suten – or what most of my friends (as well as myself) know as ‘suwit.’ A friend of mine, as well as my former teacher in college, was very lucky to get the chance to explain about this game and teach it to a bunch of students (I don’t know whether she was in an elementary school, junior high, or senior high) during her stay in the United States for a Master Degree. To simplify, this game is similar to rock, paper and scissor which is most popular in Indonesia as ‘suwit Jepang’ (Japanese suwit). The differences between Suwit and Rock, Paper and Scissor is the the characters we made and represented by our fingers. In Suwit, we merely use our thumb, index finger, and little finger or pinky of  our right hand. In Javanese culture it is impolite to use your left hand when interacting with others. Now, I’m gonna rephrased my friend’s explanation here: so the thumb here, represents an elephant. The index finger represents man, and the little finger is an ant. When a man faced an elephant, of course the elephant won, because it could easily crushed us to pieces, right? Then when a man faced an ant, he could easily step on the ant. Hence the index finger won. Here’s the interesting part. When the elephant met an ant, who’d won, do you think? The elephant? Wrong! Here’s what we believe in suwit: a match between an elephant vs an ant would be won by the ant! Why? Because the ant is so tiny that it could crawl and went into one of the elephant’s ears. Hence, it could kill the elephant from the inside.
    We still do this game sometime, to determine who would do the presentation first, or who would pay for dinner (or something like that).

  2.  Hompimpah – This is similar to suwit, but hompimpah is an alternative when you have more than two people. Suwit is meant for two people only and hompimpah is what we do when we have a bigger party. What you have to do is shake your right palm and say “Hom-pim-pah!” or “Hom-pim-pah alaium gambreng” together with your friends. Whichever you say doesn’t really matter actually, but the moment you say the last syllable of each, you need to give out your right palm, and it has to be facing up or down. The only one with a different side of the palm won (for example, other’s palms are facing up, and only one’s facing down, then the latter is the winner). The game would continue in order to find the runner-ups until there’s only two people left. The loser then would be determined with a suwit, or a three-times suwit. The one who lost in the suwit is the loser. My friends and I are still playing it sometimes, when we want to determine who’s the one unlucky enough to do the ‘seek’ part in ‘hide and seek.’
  3. Petak umpet – Hide and seek! Yes, we play this too! We usually play this in a group of five to ten people, and the ‘seeker’ is determined after doing some hompimpahs and suwit. The seeker would then count to ten or even fifty, depends on the agreement with other friends and as you all know, would then seek his friends.
  4. Sunda manda – The origin of this game is unknown but from, rumor has it that this game originated in Netherland and the actual name is zondag-maandag. Make sense, though, since we used to belong to the Dutch. My friend told me that in East Java, this game is called ‘Engklek.’ Anyway, before playing, we would usually draw these on a flat concrete:
    We called the squares as 'sawah.' It means 'rice fields.'

    After that, we would pick a stone, or a marble, or a chunk or a small piece of a roof. This is called ‘gancuk.’ As this game is meant for at least 2 people, each person would have their own gancuk. The gancuk would then be thrown into each of the square in order (from no. 1 to no. 5), and the owner of the gancuk would have to hop one-footed through the squares, from no. 1 to no. 5 and then return back from no. 5 to no. 1. The only times player could use both feet is when they hop into no. 3 and 4, with each foot in each square. However, the players must not hop into the square where their own gancuk is on. On the way back later from no. 5, they could take their own gancuk when their foot is in the square before their gancuk’s square. If they succeed hopping through the squares without falling, or stepping on the line, as well as stepping or accidentally hitting other players’ gancuk, they could continue by throwing the gancuk to the next square (no. 2 and so on). If their gancuk fall outside the intended square, or fall on the line of the squares, they would have to skip their turn. The same thing applies when the players fall or stepping on the line or hitting others’ gancuk.
    When a player’s gancuk manage to finish all the squares, the next stage would be optional, if I had not mistaken. The player could redo all over again, but this time, they would have to throw their gancuk without facing the squares. After their gancuk, again, finish all the squares, this player would then have a privilege to have their own square, or house by throwing their rock into the squares. The square then would be marked with a star. This house could then be used by the owner to rest their feet and they have the privilege to step on their house with both feet. Other players, however, are not supposed to step on the house. The winner is the player who manage to own most of the squares.

  5. Galah asin – or what I know as Gobak Sodor. Frankly speaking, I  am not very familiar with this game, because I didn’t play this very often. But this game is usually played in groups of 3 to 5 people. One team would have to block the other team to reach their destination, by moving only vertically or horizontally to catch the people from the opponent’s group. When all team members manage to reach their destination, they would be declared winner. To make it easier, the game is usually played in a tennis court since the field has many lines drawn already, which would make it easier for the blocking team to determine their position and their movement range.
  6.  Ular Naga(Hydra–but with only one head) – Boy, don’t I love this game. It’s for at least 4 to 5 people, with 2 persons standing in front of each other and holding each others’ hand up high to serve as ‘the gate.’ The rest of the kids would then form a ‘snake’ by forming a long line (the longer the better, I guess), and walking around in circle, passing ‘the gate.’ As they walk around, though, they would need to sing this song:Ular naga panjangnya bukan kepalang
    Menjalar-jalar selalu kian kemari
    Umpan yang lezat, itulah yang dicari
    Ini dianya yang terbelakang!

    (A hydra so long in its shape
    Always creeping here and there
    Looking for its tasty prey
    Here it is, the one left behind!)With the last line, persons serving as the gate would then lower their hand, catching whoever is coincidentally passing right through them, as that person itself would rush passing the gate so he/she wouldn’t be caught. The explanation in stated that the ‘prey’ would then have to choose to join the left part of the gate or the right part. The one with most followers would then win and the one losing would have to catch the winner’s followers at the back of the line. I rarely managed to finish the game most of the time, so I only have a very vague memory of this last part, but I miss this game, really.
  7. The Congklak Board. They came in various size and shape. And all are pretty!

    Congklak – or also known as Dakon in other parts in Indonesia. I myself first know this game as ‘Congklak’ instead of ‘Dakon’. This game is rather expensive compared to the other games, because this game would require a Dakon or Congklak board. On the board, there are 8 pairs of small holes and two big holes at each edge of the board. Each hole, other than the two big holes, would be filled with 7 marbles, or shells. As this game is meant for two

    The 'marbles', or 'shells.' We call this 'Biji Congklak.' 'Biji' means 'seed.'

    people only, each player would own one big hole on her left. The 2 players would play in turn, by taking out all marbles from one of the holes on her side (the marbles from the opposite side belong to the opponent), and then dropping the marbles one by one to the hole on the left side, and then move on to the next hole the left side, and so on. She should drop one marble when she passes her own big hole and skip the opponent’s big hole. When the last marble falls on any small hole with marbles, the player could still continue by taking the last marble along with the marbles on that hole and continue to the next hole until the last marble is finally dropped into an empty small hole. Then the opponent would then take turn and play exactly the same way. But when the last marble falls on an empty small hole on her side, and on the opposite hole there’s a marble, or even plenty of marbles, she would be able to take the opponent’s marbles and move them into her big hole. After all the marbles on the small holes are finally moved into the big holes, the one with most marbles won the game. Oh, did I tell you already that the players do a suwit first to determine who’d start first?

    Playing Congklak, or Dakon.

Phew! I hope you’re still reading.

I did not expect to write this long, and I did not expect to find so many games! And I was really excited writing all that as I realized how I miss those games!

BUT, as I used to be a little girl, so most of those games are actually meant for girls, especially Sunda Manda and Congklak, but most of the times I played them with guys, too!

There are still many others (believe me, there are PLENTY), but I’m not gonna bore you anymore with my babbles and rambles. Sorry, I hope you weren’t tortured reading these. Hahaha. I found an English article about Indonesian traditional games here, so you might wanna check for the complete information here. To end this, I’m going to present an Indonesian children rhyme that I still remember clearly (unless you wanna be tortured with another explanation, don’t ask me what or why of the lyrics):

 Donal Bebek, mau kemana? Mau ke pasar.
Membeli apa? Membeli baju.
Warnanya apa? Warnanya putih.
Putih, putih melati, Ali Baba
Merah, merah delima, Pinokio
Siapa yang baik hati? Cinderella.
Tentu disayang mama!

(Donald Duck, where are you going? To the traditional market.
To buy what? To buy clothes.
What color? White.
White jasmine, white jasmine, Ali Baba.
Red pomegranate, red pomegranate, Pinocchio.
Who’s the one with a kind heart? Cinderella.
Must have been loved by mother*!)

P.S. Sometimes, ‘mama’ (mother) is replaced with ‘pacar’ (boyfriend).

What We Did For Fun Before The Computer When I grew up, the video game was not invented yet.  The home video game Pong did not come along until I was nearly in my teens.  Al Gore had not invented the internet either.  So, what did we do back then for fun?  Besides dodging dinosaurs we had a lot of fun games that were played outside with other human beings.  For those under thirty years old – outside is the place where that annoying sun glare on your computer screen comes from.  I tried … Read More

via The Biz of Pacelinebiz

2 thoughts on “Indonesian Children Games-What We Did For Fun Before The Computer (via The Biz of Pacelinebiz)

  1. uhm, do I suspect a non-proper referencing here? *hint: a former college teacher* bwhahahahahah.

    my list: seprengan, gaprakan, apollo, soyang-soyang, jamuran, tembak jeneng. maybe I will write about them in my blog to continue yours.

  2. Aargghh, busted! Hahaha. Kok non-proper, bu? Kan I didn’t claim the explanation as mine, hahaha. Whew, I mostly list the ones that I used to play, bu, and I even had to leave out Bola Bekel, because the explanation would be even longer than Sunda Manda or Congklak :'( And reading your list, I feel like I really need to play a lot more games. Those list of yours are all new to me! :<

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