Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/103

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Mr. Farren informed me that when playing the game as a child it was never possible to tell whether the saw would come or not; and with his help I was not long in determining the cause. If the ulnar middle string is pulled across proximal to the radial, the string runs out as soon as the thumb loops are slipped. Naturally the correction of the fault lies in slipping the index loops instead, when the saw occurs as before. In either case, however, it may be called a concluding figure or movement.

The strings often tangle in making the transformations, but if the play is correct the tangles will unravel of themselves. They are caused by pieces of some loops getting nipped between the fingers and other strings. A mistake if it does not bring the play to an end may result in a tangle, that is a real crossing or intertwisting which cannot be got rid of. On the other hand it is possible to introduce slight differences into the figures which run the whole round, appearing in each figure in succession without otherwise affecting the play, and form a pleasing variation. Mistakes often occur from the efforts of inexperienced players, and especially in the random play of children. These do not always affect the play irrecoverably, but an error which is not apparent in one figure may distort its successor.

Most of the figures show up any important mistake, but there are many false Diamond figures which superficially exactly resemble the true. The total possible number of these figures must be very large—perhaps some high multiple of sixteen. But only four are genuine, and of these four two arise from a different construction of the Cat's Cradle. The true figure is distinguished by the fact that one parallel pair of the diagonal strings passes between the other pair, the strings of the second pair passing distal and proximal to the first. I have already pointed out how to distinguish the obverse figure.

The False Diamond figures are very curious. They sometimes occur in pairs, the second being followed by a sterile figure; and I have found one whose malign influence did not appear until the final sawing figure. I have given for curiosity a few examples. Fig. 18 a, b, c, d (see next page).

It remains to give some names by which the figures are known