Mangala Game Information
Historical researches show that Mangala Game was being played in the period of Sakas, Huns and Gokturks.
Origins of “Coffee House” culture in the world was rooted in 1554 in Istanbul; and the traces of coffee culture in today’s Europe were seen from 1650 onwards, 96 years after it was seen in Istanbul. Only two visual sources which reflect the coffee culture of that period -where the strong basis of this culture was established- was able to come to our time. Both of these resources were drawn in Istanbul. Mangala game is one of the games that are existent in both of these visual sources.
Throughout the history, Mangala Game has not been played for gambling purposes. Foreign travelers who visited our country told in their travel books that Turks were playing this game for hours with enjoyment and without any dispute and that they never played this game for money.
Mancala-type games are played in different countries of the world; however there are certain characteristics of Mangala that are different from other mancala games. In other mancala games, pieces are generally called as “seeds” and moving the seeds is called as “sowing seeds”. This shows that those cultures were agricultural societies. However, in Turkish Mangala, pieces are seen as “soldiers”. Moreover, for the division that we call as “treasury” today, Turks used the word “orda” which means “headquarter”; and this shows that our game was not a farm game but a war game.
Another different characteristic of Turkish Mangala is that one of the taken pieces is put into his own tent, that is, his own pit. In other mancala games, there is no such thing like putting a piece into player’s own pit. The rule of putting one of the pieces in the player’s own pit in Mangala is a demonstration of the tradition of protecting the family home in Turkish social life. The rule of making the opponent’s pieces even in order to gain pieces symbolizes the dual understanding in the history of Turkish belief and state system and it suits with traditional world view of Turks. Acceptance by Ancient Turks of the sky as “father” and the ground as “mother”; and the doublet of töles-left and tardusright in Turkish state system and the doublet of yabgu and şad system in administrative structure can be given as examples of this understanding.
Ministry of Culture and Tourism has declared that Mangala Game is one of the deep-rooted aspects of Anatolian culture, that it will be useful to introduce this game to new generations and to spread it, and that it will contribute to Turkey’s advertisement in cultural and touristic fields. The game has been found by the Ministry of Education as appropriate to be played in schools.
The difference of Mangala Game from the other games of its age is that it was a game that could be played by the people of any age and culture ranging from the shepherd in the mountain to the 70-year-old scholar, from Sultana in the palace in Istanbul to the 5-year-old kid.
According to researcher Philip Townshend, seven of the characteristics that people like most and take as example in a society can be found in Mangala:
MANGALATurkish Traditional Game
Istanbul 1582, a group of craftsmen in Surname-i Humayun (Imperial Festival Book), Topkapi Palace, miniature numbered 367-A
Istanbul 16thC. Coffee house miniature, a miniature in Dublin Chester Beatty Library
Gaziantep Castle, Mangala rock in Gaziantep Castle museum
1714 Istanbul, the gravure by Marquie de Ferriol named “Turkish Girls Playing Mangala”
1737 Istanbul , Jean Baptiste van Mour, Women Playing Mangala at Topkapi Palace.
1000 year-old Mangala rock found in Kanlı Divane, Mersin