Hawaiian Counting Game

Note: The graphic illustrating this game was not in the original document.

64. He-lu-pa-ka-hi - ONE-BY-ONE-COUNTING

One-by-one Counting Two persons simultaneously put out their fingers and count, first one finger, crying "one;" then two, crying "two," and so on up to ten, repeating ten times. The game is played very rapidly, and if a player makes an error he loses, otherwise the one first completing the count wins. This game is also called ku-la li-ma, from ku-la, "school," and li-ma, "finger," from its being used, presumably, as a school exercise. It is not the same as the Chinese game of ch'ai múi, or the Italian morra.

Of the Samoan game Stair1 says: "O le talinga matua, also called O le lupein ga, was a game of counting, played by two persons sitting opposite each other. One of them held up his closed hand to his companion, and immediately after showed a certain number of fingers, quickly striking the back of his hand upon the mat, directly after. His companion was required to hold up a corresponding number of fingers immediately after, in default of which he lost a point in the game."

J. S. Polack2 says of the game in New Zealand: "The game of Ti is much indulged in. It consists of a party counting in unison with the fingers; on a number being given, the players must instantly touch the finger denoting the said number, and an error in this active performance is productive of much mortification to the native; the dexterity with which it is played can only be accomplished by continual practice."

1. Page 138.
2. Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders, London. 1840, vol. II, P. 171.

Last update February 2, 2010