Every once in a while I succumb to an irresistible offer and subscribe to the LRB, as a result of which I get e-mails with more offers, and they’ve sent me one for a book:

The latest in our series of LRB Collections ‘Anyone for gulli-danda?’ features writing about sport from the London Review of Books, by Tariq Ali, Gabriele Annan, Terry Castle, Marjorie Garber, Jane Holland, Benjamin Markovits, Karl Miller, David Runciman, Amia Srinivasan and Heathcote Williams.

I’m not tempted by the book, but needless to say I was intrigued by the title, and a bit of googling turned up the Wikipedia article Gillidanda:

Gilli Danda (also spelled Gulli-Danda) also known as Viti Dandu, Kitti-Pul and by other variations, is a sport originating from the Indian subcontinent, played in the rural areas and small towns all over South Asia as well as Cambodia, Turkey, South Africa, Italy, Poland, and in some Caribbean islands like Cuba. The game is played with two sticks: a large one called a danda (Dandi in Nepali, Dandu/दांडू/ದಾಂಡು in Marathi, Kittipul/கிட்டிப்புள் in Tamil and Kannada, കോൽ in Malayalam), which is used to hit a smaller one, the gilli (Biyo in Nepali, Viti/विटी in Marathi, kittikol/ கிட்டிக்கோல் in Tamil and Chinni/ಚಿನ್ನಿ in Kannada, കുറ്റി in Malayalam). […]

Gillidanda is known by various other names: it is called Tipcat in English, itti dakar in Sindhi, Dandi-Biyo (डण्डी बियो) in Nepali, guli-badi (ଗୁଲି ବାଡ଼ି) in Odia (regional variations dabalapua ଡାବଲପୁଆ and ପିଲବାଡ଼ି pilabadi in Phulbani and guti-dabula ଗୁଟିଡାବୁଳ in Balasore), gulli-ṭāṇ (???????????????????????? ????????????) in Bhojpuri, alak-doulak (الک دولک) in Persian, dānggűli (ডাঙ্গুলি) in Bengali, Tang Guti (টাং গুটি) in Assamese, chinni-kolu ಚಿನ್ನಿ ಕೋಲು in Kannada, kuttiyum kolum in Malayalam, vitti-dandu विट्टी दांडू in Marathi, Koyando-bal(कोयंडो बाल) in Konkani, kitti-pul (கிட்டி-புல்) in Tamil, Gooti-Billa (Andhra Pradesh) or Karra-Billa (Andhra Pradesh) or Billam-Godu (Andhra Pradesh) or chirra-gonay (in Telangana) in Telugu, Gulli-Danda (ਗੁੱਲ਼ੀ ਡੰਡਾ) in Punjabi, Geeti Danna (گیٹی ڈنا) in Saraiki, Iti-Dakar (اٽي ڏڪر) in Sindhi, Lappa-Duggi (لپا ڈگی) in Pashto, Kon ko in Cambodian, Pathel Lele in Indonesian, syatong in Tagalog, awe petew in Ilonggo, çelikçomak in Turkish, ciang sat in Zomi language, “Đánh Trỏng” or “Đánh Khăng” in Vietnam, Quimbumbia in Cuba and Lippa in Italy.

Who knows if those are all actually the same game, but it’s quite a collection of names; I’m not sure gulli-danda, with or without the hyphen, isn’t the best.


  1. And Galician lipe, Polish klipa, Serbo-Croatian klȋs, plus German Spatzeckspiel, Kibbel-Kabbel, Pinneken kloppen (regional variants), Russian чи́жик, Erzya дёко, etc. etc.

    And, see the Venetian Wikipedia page on S-cianco.

  2. This issue of The Pennsylvania Dutchman, on p. 2, has an article on “Let’s All Play Nipsi”, among lots of fun folkloric tidbits in English and Pennsylvania Dutch (“Vas geet mit sex fies darrich die grick un grickt uscht fiera nass?—En mann uff me gaul am reita.” viz., “What goes through a creek with six legs and gets only four of them wet?—A man riding a horse.”)

  3. I knew of Anglo-American tip-cat, according to rules that basically accord with what the Wikipedia entry for tip-cat says. The game is similar to the description of Gillidanda but certainly not identical. The smaller pieces of wood have different shapes between the two games, and they are first launched into the air differently. More importantly, Gillidanda is described with cricket-like fielding and scoring, whereas I have never known tip-cat as anything more than a contest to hit the “cat” as far as possible.

  4. The wiki page has both a “names” section and a “similar games” section, with plentiful overlap. I don’t know whether that reflects contributors ignoring each other, or an uneasy truce in a long-running edit war.

  5. I’d never seen the superscript ṭāʾ as in ڈ before — turns out it’s how Perso-Arabic scripts indicate retroflexion. TIL…

  6. David Eddyshaw says

    Is that you, N̢R? I thought you might be retroflex, but I never suspected you were nasal.

  7. No, only myopic.

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