Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/93

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75
COUNTING GAMES.

boy climbed on horseback on him, and slapped him on the shoulders with his hand, laughing and calling out 'bucca, bucca, quot sunt hic?'[1] The simple counting-games played with the fingers must not be confounded with the addition-game, where each player throws out a hand, and the sum of all the fingers shown has to be called, the successful caller scoring a point; each should call the total before he sees his adversary's hand, so that the skill lies especially in shrewd guessing. This game affords endless amusement to Southern Europe, where it is known in Italian as 'morra,' and in French as 'mourre,' and it is popular in China under the name of ts'ai mei, or 'guess how many!' So peculiar a game would hardly have been invented twice over in Europe and Asia, and as the Chinese term does not appear to be ancient, we may take it as likely that the Portuguese merchants introduced the game into China, as they certainly did into Japan. The ancient Egyptians, as their sculptures show, used to play at some kind of finger-game, and the Romans had their finger-flashing, 'micare digitis,' at which butchers used to gamble with their customers for bits of meat. It is not clear whether these were morra or some other games.[2]

When Scotch lads, playing at the game of 'tappie-tousie,' take one another by the forelock and say, 'Will ye be my man?'[3] they know nothing of the old symbolic manner of receiving a bondman which they are keeping up in survival. The wooden drill for making fire by friction, which so many rude or ancient races are known to have used as their common household instrument, and which lasts on among the modern Hindus as the time-honoured sacred means of lighting the pure sacrificial flame, has been

  1. Petron. Arbitri Satiræ rec. Büchler, p. 64 (other readings are buccæ or bucco).
  2. Compare Davis, 'Chinese,' vol. i. p. 317; Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. i. p. 188; Facciolati, Lexicon, s.v. 'micare'; &c.
  3. Jamieson, 'Dict. of Scottish Lang.' s.v.