7 junio, 2024

Indigenous games: examples and characteristics

The indigenous games They are those typical of a particular region or country that are part of the culture and traditions. They generally have an ancestral origin and are the product of popular ingenuity.

Examples of autochthonous games, also called traditional games, are the game of spinning top, marbles, tejo, stop, lazo, gurufío, palo encebado, donkey jumping, yoyo and whirligig, among others.

These games, also called vernacular, have one characteristic in common: they are made with natural elements and are played with toys or objects that are easily available in the place.

In some countries many of the original games are part of popular or traditional sports, also called indigenous or rural sports. If these are played by children they are not usually considered sports. But if played by adults and under certain criteria of formality, they are considered sports.

Some authors make the distinction between popular games, traditional games and autochthonous games. However, at present the differences between these games are very slight because an original, cultural and integrating element is present in all of them.

Examples of indigenous games

purepecha ball

It is believed that it is about 3,500 years old and that it was practiced as a form of worship to the sun and the cosmos. It is an autochthonous game from Michoacán and consists of hitting a rag ball with sticks to the rival frame, being very similar to hockey.

ulama game

Of Mesoamerican origin, it is one of the oldest traditions in Sinaloa. It is a game similar to volleyball, but without the presence of a net. Two teams divided into two parts of a court throw a rubber ball until one of the two cannot return it.


The kimbomba or timbomba is a game of Mayan origin, specifically from the Yucatan peninsula. Similar to baseball, a small conical-tipped stick is used instead of a ball. This will be hit by another larger rod, being the bat. It is played in teams of three. The team that scores the most runs at bat will be the winner.

Mesoamerican ball game

There are games that are indigenous or originating from a specific place, and are even played only in that place. This is the case of the Mesoamerican ball game, which was practiced in the Aztec and Mayan cultures, among others.

It received the name of tlachtli and had a religious and very bloody purpose. Others are cucaña (Canary Islands), Basque ball (Basque Country) or cricket (England).


At present there are very few pure autochthonous games, which are practiced only in a certain region or country. The gurrufío is an example of this, since it is only played in Venezuela.

The gurrufío is a traditional Venezuelan toy made up of a flattened soda bottle cap strung through two holes on a wick or string.

In Latin America, traditional games are usually cultural manifestations that have been transmitted from generation to generation, and are the product of the process of miscegenation and integration of peoples.

There are indigenous communities where native games are still maintained and practiced, but these are less well known.

Characteristics of native games

– They originate from the place where they are played.

– They serve to develop basic and specific motor skills, and help improve coordination capacity.

– They are part of popular culture and have an ancestral origin.

– They serve to occupy free time and practice healthy leisure.

– They contribute to social integration and the recovery of identity and cultural values.

– They are simple games that stimulate creativity and imagination.

– They stimulate values ​​of cooperation, camaraderie, respect, self-improvement and healthy competition.

– They are generally performed with the body and with elements available in nature.

– They can be individual or collective.

There are dozens of autochthonous and traditional games in many parts of the world that use objects for their execution. Examples of these are the rope, the top, the marbles and the sack races, among others.

There are also others that are played only with the body and mind, such as rock, paper or scissors, or the game of odd or even.

Themes of interest

Traditional games of Mexico.

15 Traditional Games of Ecuador for Children and Adolescents.

Guatemalan traditional games.

Traditional Colombian games.


Traditional games. Consulted from es.wikipedia.org Iona Opie. The People in the Playground (1993) (In-depth study of children’s playground lore and life). Consulted from books.google.es Sadurní Brugué, Marta: The first children’s games in the development of children, step by step, UOC, 2003, Retrieved from books.google.es Native sports. Consulted from tvmas.mx Popular, traditional and autochthonous games. Recovered from easotafyd.blogspot.com Native and traditional games. Recovered from prezi.com

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