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The most unique Mongolian game is shagai or anklebones, which as the name suggests, is played using the cleaned and polished anklebones of sheep. Each of the four sides of the anklebone represents a different animal; horse, sheep, camel, goat, although there are many games which can be played with the bones. In earlier times, families which managed to collect more anklebones than they needed would select an auspicious day and go to play the game of "multicolored turtle" on the top of a mountain leaving the bones afterwards as an offering to the mountain or to the sky. This game is played with a number of bones corresponding to one of the auspicious number in the Buddhist faith- most often 81 or 108. the placement of the bones represents the five elements and colors in addition to the body of the turtle itself, which is viewed in traditional Mongolian iconography as the symbol of the cosmos players take bones from different parts of the turtle or surrounding five elements on each turn corresponding to the throw of a die. Once the players have collected all the parts of the turtle's body the game concludes with the player in possession of the most bones the winner. One of the common games played with shagai is the "horse race" for 2 or more players.

Games played using carved or painted pieces include cards, chess, dominoes and khorol (a game similar to dominoes, using the 12 animals of the zodiac and Buddhist symbols). Of these games chess remains one of the most popular as well as one of the oldest traditional games some Mongolian scholars claim that chess sets characteristically depict nobles, horses, camels, oxcarts and other identifiable elements of Mongolian life. Mongolian chess is more similar to the European than the Chinese version of the game, but there are several important differences in the rules for example: only the pawn in front of the Queen is only permitted to move one space at a time when moving diagonal

Published: 2017-11-15 14:45:50