Mancala World

Cycle → Portuguese.

Sowing in cycles are a characteristic feature of most mancala games. Seeds are usually distributed along a closed path, ie. a path with the same first and last vertex.

Number of Cycles

Most two- and three-row games have one cycle, which is shared by both players. Exceptions are Azigo (two cycles), Cups (no cycles), Diffusion (multiple overlapping cycles) and Trias (two partly overlapping cycles).

Four- and six-row games have almost always two separate cycles, a different one for each player. An exception is Four-rank Diffusion, which has multiple overlapping cycles.

Very few mancala games don't have cycles at all, e.g. Cups, Atomic Wari, and Sowing.

Direction of Sowing

Clockwise arrow.svg.png
Counterclockwise arrow.svg.png

The direction of sowing resembles the cycling of a clockhand. It can be clockwise (left) or anticlockwise (right). Anticlockwise sowing is far more common than clockwise sowing even in modern games. According to Assia Popova, the clockwise direction is known as the direction of the sun or the male direction in Central Asia, while the anticlockwise direction is considered to be female. Widdershins, a modern game designed by David Parlett, is named after the female direction of game play.

Never-ending Moves

Multiple-lap games can have never-ending moves, ie. moves that continue to cycle around the board forever. Their mathematical properties have been researched in Bao and Omweso.

See also


Deledicq, A. & Popova, A.
Wari et Solo: Le Jeu de Calculs Africain (Collection "Les Distracts" 3). CEDIC, Paris (France) 1977, 177-179.
Kronenburg, T., Donkers, J. & de Voogt, A. J.
Never-Ending Moves in Bao. In: ICGA Journal 2006; 29 (2): 74-78.
Wernham, B.
Omweso: The Royal Mancala Game of Uganda (Boardgames in Academia V). Paper presented at Board Game Studies Colloquium V, Barcelona (Spain) 2001 (21th-25th April).


© Ralf Gering
Under the CC by-sa 2.5 license.