According to Culin in his 1895 book Korean Games, with Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan, "Nyout" was the most popular game in Korea at the time the book was published. The graphic at the left is from Culin's book as Plate XV after page 68, and the orginal illustration was issued in a number of colors.
There is a considerable history related to the game of "Nyout" according to Culin. The game appears to have anticedents from India and China and it is related to both Chess and Pachisi. While throw sticks were known in Ancient Egypt and Ancient China, factors associated with the gameboard design refer to a historic event in Korea that took place about 200bc. There is also some speculation that the game itself relates to the practice of Divination in Ancient China. Be that as it may, by the time Culin was writting about the game, it was employed as a gambling game by many adults during a holiday season.
Culin writes that the gameboard may be drawn upon a piece of paper or on the ground. The game is played by two to four persons who move counters (called horses) around the board based upon the throws of a chance device. The chance device in this game are four wooden "throw sticks".
The "throw sticks" traditionally were of two types, a set of short sticks about an inch in length, and a set of long sticks about four inches in length. It has been reported that boys generally used the short sticks which were thrown from a cup (as may be seen in the illustration), while the long sticks were thrown by men directly on to the playing surface without the use of a cup. The sticks were created with one convex side and one flat side. In some sets the convex side was blackened by charring. When the sticks were thrown, the manner in which they fell determined the number of moves a plaayer's "horse" may move on the board. For example, 4 convex sides up represented a move of 5 spaces on the board; 2 flat sides up represented a move of 2 spaces on the board.
For a view of a commercial version of this game called "Korean Yoot", click here.
Last update December 7, 2010