Crocodile sungka boards sungka

I don’t play sungka. I never learned although it has always intrigued me as a child. When I got older, my interest was more on the solid wood board than the game itself. I so love solid wood objects. When I saw this crocodile sungka boards at Tiendesitas, I was drawn to them. But since neither I nor my daughters play the game, there really was no point in buying a sungka board, was there?

Having taken photos of what, to me, was a unique design for a sungka board, I decided to read up a bit to be able to say something other than “crocodile sungka boards”. To my surprise, sungka is not as uniquely Filipino as I thought.

Sungka is just one in a long list of mancala games played in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and even as far as the Caribbean. It was “likely” introduced to Indonesia by Indian or Arab traders and, from there, it spread throughout Southeast Asia. There are many variants and the number of holes in the board differ. Sungka is one of the variants.

Despite the known 800 variants, the basic gameplay is the same — the holes are filled with seeds and one must capture the other player’s seeds in order to win the game. The description of the process gave me a headache. I suppose it’s easier to understand if one is watching an actual game being played than simply reading how it is played.


  1. says

    When my daughter was in grade sch she prodded me to buy a sungka board. After a few rounds (‘few’ being the operative word), she got bored with the game. The sungka board ended up as a wall decor where it still hangs to this day, probably on its 10th year.

  2. Liezl says

    Hi, Tita Connie (wow, naki-tita talaga!?), I’m your avid reader. I’m learning a lot from you.

    I agree, sungka is not uniquely Filipino. I went to Bali, Indonesia just two weeks ago and I was surprised to see a sungka board in the villa where we stayed. I asked the Balinese girl who’s attending our villa and she said she also knows how to play sungka.

    I just wish the stones we use to play sungka were diamond stones para bongga! Haha!

    More power to you, Tita Connie! :)

  3. Archana says

    I used to play pallanguli ( south Indian version ) as a child with my brother and aunts during summer vacation. We used to have a wooden foldable game board. I dont know what happened to it.
    How I miss the more simple times . We even had metal dice, long indented pair , and wooded board for Indian version of Ludo called Thaayam. snakes and ladder was Paramapadham.

      • Archana says

        I know!! I am constantly surprised by your posts. I cant believe how much your blog reminds me of home!!! Even the flowers in your beautiful lush garden to the greenery on the wayside in the pictures of your trips. And all the random things you post besides food. Love , love love your blog , Connie. And the FOOD. mmmmmmmm :D