Mancala World

Dakon → German, Portuguese.

Other Names: Dhakon, Dha-
konan, Permainan Dakon
First Description: Sir Thomas
Stamford Raffles, 1817
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Indonesia (Java)

Dakon, a mancala game played on Java, Indonesia, is related to Congkak.

Dakon was first mentioned by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles im his "History of Java" in 1817, who wrote that it "is much practiced by women". Today the game is mostly played by girls. It is believed that Dakon improves competence in calculation and alertness.

The game has been solved by human players and it is a win for the first player in the first move. However, de Voogt, Donkers and Uiterwijk used the name in a misleading manner, confusing it with Ohvalhu, a game they found on the Maldives.

In Java, the term "dakon stone" refers to the similarly pitmarked stones from the bronze-iron age period of Indonesia. These stones have rows of 4 or 5 cup-shaped holes and two holes at each end, a formation which has much in common with that of the similarly named game in Java. This prehistoric dakon stones is unrelated to the game and were probably employed in ceremonies to propitiate ancestors. Such stones can be found around Java.


The rules are similar to Congkak with some exceptions:

  • Dakon is played on a board ("papan dakon") with two rows, each one with five to nine holes ("sawah"). Seven is considered standard. At either end there is also a large store ("lumbung"; ie. "rice bank").
  • The first player is determined by the player who wins "pingsut", which resembles the paper-stone-scissors game. Its Javanese variant is played in the following manner: the two players touch their right ear with their right hands while saying "piiiiiiiiing" (from "kuping" = ear in Javanese). Together they shout "sut!" and then quickly bring down their hand to show either their thumb, index finger or little finger. The elephant (thumb) kills the man, the man (index finger) kills the ant, and the ant (little finger) kills the elephant by crawling into the elephant's ear and making it run amok.
  • Each hole ("sawah") contains seven seeds, if a standard board is used. The counters ("biji sawo") are seeds of sapodilla ("sawo") fruits.
  • The opening is played in turns. There are no simultaneous opening moves.
  • Unlike Congkak, there are two ways of capturing:
    • When the last seed falls in an empty hole of the own side, the seeds in the opposite hole are captured. This is called "nembak" ("shoot") or "gendong" ("carrying a load using a length of cloth strapped round the back").
    • When the last seed is dropped into an opponent's hole, which is empty, the opponent's seeds on the right and left sides are taken, if they both contain an equal number, and also the seed effecting the capture. This is known as "mikul" ("carrying two loads at once using a balanced shoulder pole").

External Links


Donkers, H. H. L. M., Voogt, A. J. de & Uiterwijk, J. W. H. M. 
Human versus Machine Problem-Solving: Winning Openings in Dakon. In: Board Games Studies 2000; 3: 79-88.
Raffles, T. Stamford.
History of Java. Gilbert and Rivington, London (England) 1817, 350.
Rohrbough, L. (Ed.). 
Count and Capture. Cooperative Recreation Service, Delaware OH (USA) 1955.
Scheltema, J. F. 
Peeps At Many Lands: Java. A. & C. Black, London (England) 1912.
Veth, P. J.
Java, geographisch, ethnologisch, historisch (English edition). De Erven F. Bohn, Haarlem (Netherlands) 1875-1884 (Volume I).


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By: Ralf Gering
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