The Game of Jacks

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter X. ...continued

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The common and undignified game of "jacks" also lays claim to a noble ancestry. In Mr. St. John's work on The Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece, he informs us that the game was a classical one, and called pentalitha. It was played with five astragals—knuckle-bones, pebbles, or little balls—which were thrown up into the air, and then attempted to be caught when falling on the back of the hand. Another Irish game, "pricking the loop," in Greece is called himantiliginos, pricking the garter. Hemestertius supposes the Gordian Knot to have been nothing but a variety of the himantiliginos. The game consists in winding a thong in such an intricate manner, that when a peg is inserted in the right ring, it is caught, and the game is won; if the mark is missed, the thong unwinds without entangling the peg.

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