Mancala World
Um ed-Dyar
Other Names: Enmediar,
Krur, Khrour, Kurúr,
Manddiaré, Umdiyar,
Umm Dyar
First Description: Mokhtar
Ould Hamidoun, 1952
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Mauretania

Um ed-Dyar (Enmediar, Manddiaré, Umdiyar, Umm Dyar, and sometimes Krur, Khrour or Kurúr) is a game played by the Hassaniya-speaking population in western Mauritania, for instance in Boutilimit (Trarza province) and in Moudjéria (Tagant). Hassaniya is an Arab dialect heavily influenced by Tamazigh, a Berber language, that originated in the 15th century. At this time the Yemenite Beni Hassan tribe migrated to northwestern Africa and subdued the indigenous Berber tribes over a period of 300 years.

Um ed-Dyar is mostly played by girls and young women, sometimes also by men, when they are looking for a wife. However, men do never play among themselves or in the public with women.

The game is a popular pastime all over the year, but especially during Ramadan and after the ritual islamic prayer of Zohor in the hot hours at noon time.

Usually the holes are dug in the sand, but there are also wooden boards. Some of them are made of one piece, while others consist of just one half, which must then assembled by both players.

The holes are called dyar (sing.: dar, i.e. "inhabited places"). The counters are called kyétan (sing.: kyit), a word probably related to kyit, Hassaniya for "odd", and can be pebbles, sheep balls or plant seeds.


The board has two rows, each one with an even number of holes, between 2 and 12.

The number of seeds which are initially in each hole depends on the size of the board. A board which numbers just four holes has four seeds in each hole. Board with eight or twelve holes have as many seeds as the whole board numbers holes or just as many as one row numbers holes. Large boards with 16 or 24 holes have in each hole as many seeds as a row counts holes.

Board Size



(per row)


(per hole)

Maximum Capture

(per hole)

4 2 4 4
8 4 4 or 8 4 or 8
12 6 6 or 12 6 or 12
16 8 8 8
20 10 10 10
24 12 12 12

Each player controls the holes on his side of the board.


Initial Position (Most Challenging Set-up)

On his turn, a player takes the contents of any hole of his side of the board and sows them counterclockwise, one by one, starting in the hole,which had just been emptied. However, if a singleton is moved, it is put into the next hole counterclockwise.

If the last seed makes an even number of seeds, not greater than the initial number of seeds per hole, these seeds are captured.

When a player has captured, he also gets the contents of the preceding holes, if they contain an even number of seeds not greater than the initial number of seeds per hole as long as there is an unbroken sequence of such holes.

If a player can't move, he passes until he can play again.

The game ends when all seeds have been captured.

The player who has captured the greater number of seeds, wins the game.

If, at the end of the game, a single seed remains (i.e. there has been some mistake or cheating), the player who has an odd number of captured seeds loses one seed. These two seeds (the lost one and the seed remaining on the board) are not counted.

Match Rules

The game is usually played in several rounds.

In the next game each player first fills his holes with as many of his captured seeds as in the previous game.

Those seeds, which are left over, are stored and then given to the player who makes the first capture in the ensuing game.

  • The empty holes on the looser's side of the board are filled with sand or marked. They are not used in the next game.
  • If, in a later round, the looser has not enough holes for his seeds, he reopens as many holes as he needs.
  • There is no fixed rule about the order, in which holes are closed or reopened. Sometimes they are openend from left to right, but that's not a fixed rule.

The winner of the match is he who captures all the seeds and leaves the opponent with no holes on his side.

Technical Terms

Many specific words and expressions are used to describe the game. A few are given below.

Hassaniya English Meaning
ibat sleep the last seed makes an odd number and the move ends
yokel 'um to eat to capture
i but tlekhlé to sleep in the bush to move without capturing
yerahal to wander around (like a nomad) to distribute seeds; to sow
tamret 'grab jack bean the seeds of Canavalia ensiformis
tugé gray nickernuts the seeds of Caesalpinia bonduc

See also


Béart, C. 
Jeux et Jouets de l'Ouest Africain (Memorias No. 42). Centre IFAN, Dakar (Senegal) 1955, 512-514.
Hirth, M.
In West Africa: Games, Sports, and Tradition. In: Olympic Review 1991; 283 (May): 214-219.
Mokhtar Ould Hamidoun. 
Précis sur la Mauritanie. In: Études Mauritaniennes (Centre IFAN-Mauritanie, Saint-Louis (Senegal)) 1952 (4): 1-71.
Pinto Cebrián, F. 
Juegos saharauis para jugar en la arena: Juegos y juguetes tradicionales del Sáhara. Madrid (Spain) 1999.
Santos Silva, E. R. 
Jogos de Quadricula do Tipo Mancala com especial Incidência nos Practicados em Angola. Instituto de Investigacao Cientifíca Tropical, Lisboa (Portugal) 1995, 206 & 235 & 247-248.


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By: Víktor Bautista i Roca & Ralf Gering.
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