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Mancala Game Board

African Art

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Mancala Game Board

Artwork Details


Unidentified Artist, Africa


Twentieth century



Accession #



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Currently Not on View


The deeply worn surfaces of this game board show that it has seen great use. Its beautifully minimalist ornamentation consists of a repetitive pattern of incised circles. When placed under the shade of a large tree, away from the harsh heat of the midday sun, this humble object would have become the focal point for relaxation, amusement, and communal gathering. It was used to play Mancala, a game of skill requiring quick wit and rapid mathematical calculation. This ancient game—and myriad variations of it—continues to be played throughout Africa and around the world. In the past, playing this game sometimes substituted for war, with intelligence the victor.


Gift of Sergio S. Dolfi