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The Space of the Game

With regard to space, the games of the children of Kabylie take place in semi-domestic places (75%). This is neither a very specific nor a totally wild environment. It is an unmarked, improvised space, often flat and regular.

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It is only during early childhood that boys and girls engage in joint games. This often consists of ludo-motor games without rules such as sliding games, or olive picking, or the ritual of the rain “game called: Boughandja” where the children are escorted by an old lady and go around town. After this early childhood period, as Camille Lacoste-Dujardin points out, “… boys and girls stop seeing each other. Their destinies, differentiated from their birth but mingled in the same maternal intimacy and common games, can no longer at this age merge and separate radically” (Lacoste-Dujardin, 1970, p.65).

Girls play near the houses, in the large courtyard (El lhara) which brings together the houses of a group of families, at the fountain, or in the fields under the supervision of the mothers. On the other hand, we see that the boys play at the exit of the village, at the oued (the river) or at the meadow.


These places allow better hiding and better movement, especially in the case of kora (ball) or chase games. Especially since we know that the alleys in Kabylie are very narrow given their mountain topology. A young boy Kabyle explains: “We avoid playing near houses so as not to disturb the old people.” To disturb the old people is to disturb the house, which is a sacred place, and to violate this Horma space. In addition, the statute of the old men, the imraren, is much respected in Kabylie.

They are the guardians of the nif, of the honor of the village. Idle, sitting in the public square, and they watch the comings and goings of passers-by. The street is not the territory to play, it is not anonymous, it is the place where you check passers-by, and find out if there is a stranger by any chance.


Just as the space of the house is sacred and subservient to an invisible world that must be respected, this choice of places is subject to cultural reasons. This separation of spaces must be understood in the sexual division. For girls, the space of the game is that of places reserved for women (the courtyard and the fountain). On the other hand, boys, considered as males, must join the male clan. They are forbidden to play near the houses or else they will break Horma, the honor of the family.

In addition, distant games in nature are very rare in Kabylie. The mountain constitutes the Kabyle landscape overwhelmingly; however, games are rare in these wild places because the Kabyles believe that these places are inhabited by a harmful invisible world. As Lacoste-Dujardin notes: “A mountain of stone riddled with cracks and caves that are difficult to access, it is of course the natural home of geniuses of all kinds and of snakes, also called Teryel” (Lacoste-Dujardin, 1970, p.136).


Our results show that games in flat spaces represent 75% of all games, compared to 25% in rough locations. This clearly means that children prefer to play in flat and large places, where they can hide and move around easily. It should also be noted that playing in a neutral and sacred space between two villages, often near a sanctuary, promotes the competitive spirit of the players.

The Relationship to Others
It turns out that the traditional sportive games universe of Kabylie children has a tendency for group games, common games, where the player is in constant contact with other situations of “sociomotricite” This then gives rise to a meeting, to “exchanges” (passes, interception, strikes, tackles, calls, and supports). These games, in which others bring uncertainty and conditions the action of the game, correspond to 77% of the corpus of our traditional games and are therefore strongly representative. Sociomotor games clearly favored (83%) compared to psychomotor games on solo (17.38%). Opposition games where adversity flourishes and oppositions group together 70% against 51% of solidarity activities compared to duels. We can identify two main classes of duels: duels, which exclusively pitch two players (Tikare) which resemble the sport of karate, and team duels (kora) el khateime (the ring).

If socio-motor games are predominant, it is because in Kabylie, the group has a major weight and the work in the fields for men and women is carried out in groups. We see this community in the case of women who go to the fountain in groups of relatives and neighbors to carry water, and who also help each other to lift and put on their heads the huge sheaves from the harvest and also for collecting and also for collecting olives in autumn.


The Function of the Relation to Material
In most cases, games require the presence of material. It can be something to throw, grab, or any object that can be crafted. Among all the traditional games, we rely on the entire Kabylie corpus collected, 33% of games are played without material, 31% use objects borrowed from the domestic environment and only 14% use material from the natural environment. Generally, the play objects from the domestic environment are the “jug, the fez, the scarf, burnous, the ball, the gun, the reel, the spinning top, and the eggs. Some of these objects are made by the players like the rifle, the reel and the ball.” In addition, olive and fig trees play a preponderant role as a natural environment from which the Kabyles draw to make their play objects: olives, branches, sticks, eucalyptus leaves, prickly pear leaves, pebbles… These natural objects are treasures for children who use them to make balls (Koura), sticks (Matreg), guns, knucklebones or stones. In his book “Kabylie Côté Femmes” (Laoust-Chantréaux, 1990, p.67), indicates that the objects, which correspond to domestic life or agricultural work, are of family and regional manufacture and divided by the sexes. Pottery is still made by women. The relationship to the object in the kabylie ludo- culture is a cultural relationship. Girls often use the scarf to blindfold the game of hide and seek. In the rainy season, when the earth is malleable, they play in the mud, dig their legs and play around. The jug is also used in girls’ games.