Mancala World
First Description: Henry
Parker, 1909
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Egypt, Sudan

Mangala is a mancala game, which is played by the Bedawi in Egypt and northeastern Sudan in the area along the Red Sea. The game was first described by Henry Parker in 1909 who observed it when he travelled through the Suez Cannel to India.


The game is played with 70 cowry shells on a two-row board, which has six holes on each side. A counter is called kilab ("dog").

At the beginning the board is empty. One player distributes the shells in the four central holes, while the eight holes at both ends are left empty.

His opponent then decides if he is satisfied with the position, otherwise the board is turned round and the other player begins. This seems to be the first mention of the pie rule.


Possible Initial Set-up

At their first turn each player picks up the shells of the rightmost filled hole in their row and distributes them into the succeeding holes, one by one, in clockwise direction. If the last shell falls into an occupied hole, its contents are distributed in another lap until the last shell is dropped into an empty hole. In the opening phase nothing can be captured.

After both players have had one turn at sowing, they begin subsequent moves at any hole on their own side. The sowing, however, only continues, if the last shell falls into a hole in which it makes an even number.

It is now also possible to capture.

If, when a player has dropped his last shell, there be any even pairs of shells in opposite holes on the two sides of the board, he "eats" the whole of these pairs. Afterwards it is his opponent's turn, if one of these pairs include the hole, in which the last shell fell, otherwise the sowing is continued from this hole in a new lap.

The game ends, when one of the players has no shells on his side of the board after his opponent stopped playing.

The winner is the player who has captured or "eaten" the greatest number.

See also[]

Mangala II


Parker, H. 
Ancient Ceylon: An Account of the Aborigines and of Part of the Early Civilisation. Luzac & Co., London (UK) 1909, 601-602.


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Mangala I", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.