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French Wooden Bilboquet - Europalais

The history of balero is long and rich and filled with amazing stories. It is also a subject of some debate. Some believe the balero originated in France and Europe and others believe it originated with the Inuit (Eskimo), Algonquin and Ojibwa Indians. No one knows for certain where and when the balero originated but it is certain it was very long ago.

Most accounts place the origins of balero in France where archeological excavations have found bilboquet dating to the 10th century AD. Rabelais (a French writer from the 16th century) speaks about bille-bocquet (bille: a marble, bocquet: a point javelot) that will later become billeboquet, then bilboquet.

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Inuit Nation Balero -  Skull of Arctic Hare, sliver of bone, plaited sinew cord. Royal Ontario Museum

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King Henri III

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Bilboquet pictured at a social gathering - detail from an 18th century French print.

Around this time the game became very popular in France. In 16th century, King Henri III, a very popular king, was a maximum exponent of the game, playing at royal gatherings and in public as he would travel down the streets with members of his court, with his Jester laughing at his mistakes and praising his success. Soon the entire nation was playing bilboquet. The game was thought of very highly, so much so that there were schools dedicated solely to teaching the game. After his death, balero would fade in and out of mass popularity about every hundred years or so. This trend has continued and is still going on today.

Under the reign of Luis XV, bilboquet went through it's golden period where they were made with gold, pearls, jewls and ivory. It was a high society game played by Royalty and Scholars at social events where the gold and ivory bilboquet became a status symbol to show off while socializing. Like jewlrey for a woman, no one would dare go out without their bilboquet.

In the mid 1800's and the early 1900's bilboquet once again saw a surge in popularity in France. In Japan the JKA (Japan Kendama Association) was established in the early 1900's and now in 1999 we have seen the formation of the BPA (Balero Players’ Association – International), in the USA.

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Modern Bilboquet in France

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Kendama - Japan

Each form of the game has it unique qualities and features. It’s not that one is better than the other is, it’s that they are similar but different. All are cool and none are lame.

Some of the Baleros of the world:

bulletArgentina – Balero , Boliche, Emboque
bulletBolivia - Choca
bulletBrasil – Bilboque
bulletChile, emboque, boliche
bulletColombia – Boliche, Balero
bulletCosta Rica – Boliche
bulletCuba, hoyuelo
bulletEcuador, balero
bulletFrance– Bilboquet
bulletJapan - Kendama
bulletKorea – Jangu
bulletMexico - Balero
bulletParaguay, balero, bolero
bulletPerú, balero, boliche , carambola
bulletPima Tribe – Chelgwegoooot
bulletPortugal, boliche, coca.
bulletPuerto Rico, boliche
bulletSpain - boliche, boliz (Cataluña);
bulletVenezuela – Coca, Boliche or Perinola

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El Emboque - Chile, Icarito Enciclopidia Escolar

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Choca - Bolivia

From France, Spain, Portugal, and other European Nations, Explorers went out in ships, west to the Americas, east to the Far East and south to Africa. These explorers took their bilboquet with them and shared them with the people they met in Japan, China, Korea, Africa, S. America, Central America, North America and all other locations.

What we see today around the world is the result of mixing the bilboquet with the versions of the game that already existed around the world. In France the bilboquet shape and dimensions have been standardized for Centuries and remains the same today.

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In Japan the kendama adds the two extra cups to the bilboquet which enables a greater diversification of possibilities for tricks. Kendama construction has also been standardized in Japan.

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In Mexico the balero drum shape offers greater stability in flight. Also, the orientation of the drum is more easily detected, followed and recognized in flight than the ball because the ball (sphere) shape looks the same from all angles, except for the hole on the bottom and the string on the top. This makes it easier to perform more complex tricks with the drum flipping. Many tricks that can be repeated with the balero are nearly impossible to perform with a kendama or a bilboquet.

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The Americas is no doubt where the greatest diversity of baleros exists. From the N. American Arctic to Southernmost cone of S. America, the game has flourished throughout the indigenous aboriginal cultures.

From Mexico on down through Central and South America, balero made it's way into mainstream popular (Euro - American) culture hundreds of years ago.

Before the European Explorers came to the Americas the Indian culture was the mainstream popular culture in the Americas and every tribe had their own versions of the game. There is a huge diversity in designs, so much so that some must have been lost forever, fallen through the cracks of time, and there are others that have not yet been documented, like a thumb flip version from Argentina, the Capirucho from El Salvador and many other unique Indian variations, unknown to us at this time.

In Mexico, Central America and S. America the game and most of it's variations have survived well. In Canada the game may not be popular today but at least the Indigenous Nations and the museum systems have done a superb job at documenting and preserving the game. In the USA, where the game once flourished among the Indians, it has been almost completely stamped out In most regions it is completely extinct even among the Indigenous peoples.

It seems this is the result of less mixing of the Indigenous culture with the European, resulting probably from a greater prejudice against the Indigenous people. It is long since time to end this prejudice, embrace the indigenous people, respect their culture and their game and all it's variations, give thanks for and the great knowledge they have offered and try to restore what has been damaged and lost.

It is time for this game to be restored in the USA and Canada and for it to experience a comeback in Mexico, Central America and South America. It's time for it to spread beyond to the rest of the world while rising to the level of a professional international sport.

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Living Traditions - Woodland Games and Sports - Virtual Museum - Canada - Bone and toggle or ring and pin were indoor games for the Eastern Woodland Natives. The bone and toggle was made using a bone or sharp stick with a leather string usually made of deer hide. On the string were weights, bone or antler pieces and on the end was the target, usually a piece of leather with holes in it. The object of the game is to put the bone or stick through the holes of the leather piece. This hand game helps children develop hand-eye coordination and accuracy.

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Ojibwa Balero - Bundle of birch twigs with deer antler pin - Canadian Museum of Civilization.

In the Americas, is it possible that balero could have developed with the diversity we see in the 500 years since the Europeans started coming here? In this time could it spread to every corner of every little village, in every nation, with every Indian Tribe having it's own unique forms of balero? Is this dissemination possible when for more than 400 out of the 500 years no systems of mass communication even existed? And when do we even hear of balero through our systems of mass communication? (before this)

This dissemination / diversification process of balero in the Americas most likely occurred over the 30,000 years or more that indigenous people have been here. In the Bering Straits of Alaska a handle and ball (both made of mammoth bone) were found dating to the migration of humans from Asia to the Americas. The migrations occurred in three separate "waves" of migration around 5000 BC, 10,000 BC and 30,000 BC.

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Perinola - Argentina

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Perinola - Venezuela - - Folklore


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Bolero with pedestal - Argentina

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Kendama at middle school - Japan

These migrations brought the balero to the Americas. The Inuit (Eskimo) people exist in Northern Russia and China as well as N. America and Greenland. They were in fact the first people to circumnavigate and populate around the globe in the far North. The balero came around the world with them and spread to the south through Europe, Asia and the Americas.

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Bilboquet - Finland

The Inuit introduced the balero to the Europeans around the 10th Century or earlier in France, Italy, Finland and other nations where it developed into the bilboquet.

In Japan the kendama probably developed based mostly on the bilboquet, brought by the French, but their neighbors, China, had cup and ball games and I find it unlikely that Japan had never seen even the simplest of cup and ball baleros prior to Europeans arriving there.

When the Europeans arrived in the Americas they must have been surprised and amazed when they showed their bilboquet to the Indians and the Indians already knew how to play the game.

The nature of capturing the ball in the cup in flight and the stabbing nature of the ring and pin variations, which includes the stick and drum and stick and ball type baleros, is a game based on a simulation of hunting, where one has to stab and capture the prey to be successful. This is most apparent in the "catch the fish" variation where the rings represent the ribs of the fish and the end piece represents the head of the fish.

As I said in the beginning, no one knows for certain where and when the balero originated but it is certain it was very long ago. So long ago that we may never know exactly but I believe it is the original sport.

The first game played with an object for recreational activity and competition. The first sport. It is no coincidence that almost every sport has a cup and ball aspect to it. Hands can be the cup, the body can be the ball or the cup, the target can be the ball or the cup, the cup can be the end zone, the net, the paddle or racquet and so on.

With balero the cup can be the ball and the ball the cup, as with the ring and pin form the ring is the cup and the pin is the ball, the cup is tossed and lands on the pin. From balero our great sports have evolved. Balero evolved from humans practicing hunting skills. To be quick enough to precisely stab and capture a moving, flying object is a skill that was once essential to survival.

It may not be that critical today, but all you have to do is be successful with one of the simplest balero tricks and you will feel the great pleasure that this game brings. From our deepest roots, the same feelings our most ancient ancestors experienced with the game can be felt today.

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Inuit Nation Baleros carved from the humerus bone of the seal (the most common type), tied with plaited sinew cord to a pointed bone sliver handle.  University of Waterloo Museum and Archive of Games, Canada.

Sports that have evolved from Balero:

bulletBalero - cup and ball or ring and pin
bulletBaseball - bat, glove and ball
bulletBasketball - hands, floor, basket and ball
bulletBilliards/Pool -  stick, pockets and ball
bulletBowling - hands, pins and ball
bulletCricket - hands, bat and ball
bulletCroquet - hammers, hoops, posts and balls
bulletCurling - hands, brooms, target and rock
bulletDogeball - hands, feet and ball
bulletFootball - hands, feet, end zone, goal posts and ball
bulletFlying Discs - hands, targets and disc
bulletFutbol/Soccer - feet, body, net and ball
bulletGolf - clubs, cup and ball
bulletHandball - hands and ball
bulletHockey - sticks, net and puck
bulletHurling - bats, net and ball
bulletKickball - feet, hands and ball
bulletPaddleball - paddles and ball
bulletPolo - club, net and ball
bulletRacquetball - racquet and ball
bulletRugby - end zone and ball
bulletSquash - racquet and ball
bulletTable Tennis - paddles and ball
bulletTennis - racquets and ball
bulletVolleyball - hands, net and ball
bulletWater Polo - hands, net and ball
This stonecut titled "Ball Game" is by Napachie Pootoogook, the daughter of Pitseolak, who is a noted Inuit artist from the Cape Dorset Cooperative. It is a type of group " ball game". Created in 1967, the print is in shades of green, blue, and black. © 1967 West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, Cape Dorset Nunavut

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Pitseolak, in Pictures Out of My Life, Oxford University Press, 1971, has this to say about the "ball game": "This is how we played the game - we threw a ball underhand and tried to catch it in a sealskin racket. The racket was called an Autuk. We made the ball from caribou skin and stuffed it with something. We used to play this game a lot, even in the winter. It was a good game, but they don't play it now; they are following the world".
A note on the History of Juggling - The juggling balls and stonecut pictured below show the Inuit are no strangers to juggling. An interesting question is did juggling come before balero or balero before juggling? Hmmm, they probably originated around the same ancient time and it doesn't really matter except from a historical, anthropological perspective because they both are cool coodination skill activities and both are much fun. We owe much to the Inuit for disseminating and preserving these and other great games and activities. See more Inuit games at Living Traditions | Inuit Games .

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This stonecut titled "Juggling" is by Agnes Nanogak.
© 1984 Canadian Arctic Producers

On Holman Island, juggling games are known as Illukisaaq or Illukitaq. In this game, the intent is to keep at least three objects in the air as long as possible. Normally, the game begins with two objects, a third is added, and then perhaps four or more. A skilful player may try to juggle all objects with only one hand. At times a song accompanies the juggling. Two or more jugglers may compete with one another.

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The photograph illustrates two handmade juggling balls purchased by the Museum from an Inuit Cooperative. The balls, made of Caribou hide, are hand-stitched flat spheres about 8cm in diameter. The stuffing is unknown. © 1979 University of Waterloo


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Drawing of an Inuit woman playing balero by Sorosilutoo and titled Ilukitatuk. This Inuit artist is from Cape Dorset on Baffin Island (Canada). (Government of Canada: Ministry of Indian & Northern Affairs, 1975, University of Waterloo Museum and Archive of Games.

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Balero similar to the one pictured in the drawing left. Copper Inuit, Northwest Territories, Canada

Canadian Museum of Civilization

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Inuit Woman playing a Balero carved from the point of the muskox horn. From Bilboquet

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Naubuan - Algonquin Nation, Quebec, Canada. A pointed wooden stem, strap, 20 rings and 3 perforated end pieces all of smoked leather. Museum of Civilization Quebec, Canada


"Catch the fish" balero - Algonquin Nation, Quebec, Canada. A pointed wooden stem, strap, 6 rings and perforated end piece all of smoked leather. Museum of Civilization Quebec, Canada

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Algonquin Nation Balero, carved bone target and pointed wood handle, smoked moose hide strap passes through the target with thin fringe straps of skin on the end.  Museum of Civilization, Quebec, Canada

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"Catch the fish" balero - Atikamekw Nation, Quebec Canada. A leather strap tied to a pointed wooden stem and a leather flap with 16 holes, threaded through 30 birch bark rings. From Museum of Civilization, Quebec, Canada


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A seal bone and peg of ivory. Labrador Eskimo Balero - Canadian Museum of Civilization

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Netsilik Eskimo ring and pin game, made of bone - Canadian Museum of Civilization

Below is a collection of Native American Baleros from the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

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Labrador Inuit, Newfoundland, Canada

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Baffinland Inuit, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Plains Cree, N. America

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Copper Inuit, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Algonquin Nation, Canada

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Anishnaabe (Ojibwa), Ontario, Canada

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Nlaka'pamux (Thompson), British Columbia, Canada

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Algonquin Nation - Canada

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Naskapi, Newfoundland, Canada

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Nlaka'pamux (Thompson), British Columbia, Canada

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Copper Inuit, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Montagnais, Quebec, Canada

The older generation of Mexicans all play balero very well, as they learned as children. A 75 year old woman Luc Maria Sierra (Maria of the Light) from between Mexico D.F. and Guadalajara told me that there used to be organized balero competition in Guadalajara and many (both male and female) talented throwers would compete for prize money.

Joe Pallares who grew up close to Mexico City and now lives by Chicago told me that Balero competition was often held following the soccer games and the tricks that were performed were amazing, including throwing around the neck with a lengthened string, there was separate competition for flat bottom baleros which are much more difficult to catch, and of a man with no arms who played the balero with his feet. The tradition of personalizing baleros was widespread. Carving names and words, adding metal tacks and jewels was common. Joe even had a picture of his girlfriend on his most prized balero.

From Cancun, I was told that the balero originated with the fishermen who would spear their line floats with a gaff hook to get a hold of the line and start pulling in the net. On the long rides back and forth to the nets the game was developed by tying a float on the end of the gaff pole. The balero is then a scaled down version of this. Not a bad theory, a Mexican will always have an answer for you.

Ring and pin and cup and ball games exist all over the world in slightly different forms. Balero, is the game as it has evolved in Mexico / Latin American. Through evolution the balero drum shape, size and weight distribution have been optimized for stability in flight and maximum performance.

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Softwood ring painted baleros for sale hanging in the market in Mexico.

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Hardened wood baleros, softwood baleros in the background, for sale at a market in Patzcuaro, Miichoacan, Mexico.

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Pictured left are Artesanias Los Hermanos Castro, Candido, Antonio and Franco at their stand in Xochimilco D.F. Mexico. They are members of an artisan family who has been making baleros and other articles of wood, leather and silver for hundreds of years. They are currently making baleros for the Balero Players' Association - International.

History of the BILBOQUET, call " balero " between us

From Argentina: A coleccionar - El balero o bilboquet, CURIOSIDADES CURIOSAS !!

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This game of skill called in Castilian " boliche ", and known popularly as " balero", has its origin in France in the XVI century, a favorite toy of King Henry III, he was frequently seen playing in public, followed by other members of his court and his court "jester" Chicot, laughing at his mistakes and celebrating his accomplishments, to the astonishment of passers by. In Paris, everyone played the BILBOQUET to imitate their king but after his death, the game went out of fashion for about one hundred years and was played by only a few enthusiastic ones like Marquess de Biévre. During the time King Luis XIV some remembered him to be so skilful that he could toss the whole toy, ball and handle sent into the air and collected in flight,  the sphere receiving the handle inserted in mid air.

The game went through it's golden period under the the reign of Luis XV. No one was considered anyone or went out anywhere unless he had his "balero" made of ivory. Actors were even more or less allowed the freedom to leave a scene for playing balero on stage with skill. Soon the game was again largely forgotten, at least in Europe. It is good to say here that el "balero" is known in some of the most remote countries in the world. In the forests of Brazil, the Indians use the shell of the turtles to catch the ball of the "balero".

Approximately in the year 1910, interest was born again in this old game and of course, it was in France. Several academies of education started to teach the game and the game was modernized; they found the old form and the size of baleros to be monotonous, so they began to make different forms: the " cup ", the " cube ", the " bottle ", the " hat ", the " bicycle guide ", the " feather ", etc. These names indicated the form of the object that served as ball.

In sizes there was also an immense variety, from the " Terror ", whose elm tree wood ball was as great as a watermelon and weighed more than 5 kilos, to the " Bibí ", small like a cherry, with the cup made from gold plated pearls a handle no greater than a match.

With the " Terror ", it was not difficult to play, but you tired very quickly; by the 15th time you threw the "terror" your arm most likely fell asleep from lack of circulation and was left totally useless. As the " smaller boliche" era grew the difficulties of the game also grew. With the very small " balero", the founder and professor M. Poineau, of the Academy Parisiense de Bilboquet, could only make a small number of catches out of a thousand try's.

Today, fundamentally in Europe, there are collectors of " boliches" or " baleros ". In our country (Argentina) balero has been played by both the young and the old for many years, today many refuse to forget, there are still those that are proud to say they can make 50 in a series of 50 shots.

Historia del BILBOQUET, llamado "balero" entre nosotros
Este juego de destreza llamado en castellano "boliche", y conocido popularmente como "balero", tiene su origen en Francia en el siglo XVI, de agrado de Enrique III, con frecuencia se veía a este frívolo monarca jugar en plena vía pública, seguido de sus favoritos y de su bufón Chicot, excitando con su destreza el asombro de los transeúntes. París todo, jugaba al BILBOQUET para imitar a su rey; pero a la muerte de este, el juego pasó de moda y durante cien años solo se acordaron de él algunos entusiastas como el Marqués de Biévre, contemporáneo de Luis XIV, del que se sabe que era tan diestro que lanzaba hasta el techo el juguete entero bola y mango y lo recogía al vuelo, recibiendo la esfera ensartada en el bastoncito.

El juego se renovó y vivió su época de oro bajo el reinado de Luis XV. Ningún elegante salía a la calle sin su "bilboquet"de marfil y hasta los actores se permitían la libertad de salir a escena jugando al "boliche"con más o menos destreza. Luego el juego volvió a caer en el olvido, al menos en Europa. Es bueno hacer esta aclaración por que el "boliche"es conocido en los países más remotos. En las selvas de Brasil, los indios se servían de una calavera de tortuga como esfera del "boliche".

Aproximadamente para 1910, renace nuevamente el juego y por supuesto en Francia. Se crean varias academias de enseñanza y el juego se moderniza; como la forma y el tamaño antiguos resultaban monótonos, se comenzaron a hacer de diferentes gustos y formas caprichosas: la "copa", el "cubo", la "botella", el "molde de sombrero", el "guía de bicicleta", el "plumero", etc. Estos nombres indicaban la forma del objeto que servía de bola.

En tamaños había también una variedad inmensa, desde el "Terror", cuya bola de madera de olmo era tan grande como una sandía y pesaba más de 5 kilos, hasta el "Bibí", pequeño como una cereza, y el "Costaud" formado por una perlita dorada y un mango no más grande que un fósforo.

 Con el "Terror", no era difícil jugar, pero cansaba muy rápido; a las 15 veces de lanzar el monstruo se quedaba el jugador con el brazo dormido, totalmente muerto. A medida que el "boliche"era más pequeño crecían las dificultades del juego. Con el minúsculo "Costaud", el mismo M. Poineau, fundador y profesor de la Academia Parisiense de Bilboquet, no hacía más de un tanto, por cada mil veces que lanzaba la bola .
Hoy, fundamentalmente en Europa, hay coleccionistas de los denominados "boliches"o "baleros". En nuestro país el balero hizo la diversión de grandes y chicos durante muchos años, hoy relegado al olvido por la mayoría, sigue teniendo adeptos ocultos que se enorgullecen de acertar una serie de 50 en 50 tiros.

Cup and Ball or Ring and Pin Games

History (used with the permission of The Museum & Archive of Games, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada).

French Print The origins of the game of Bilboquet are somewhat obscure. It is known all over the world today as evidenced by the examples from many cultures in this exhibit. In a number of older commercial game advertisements the game is often called a Bilbo Catcher. (Web Surfers take note: Bilbo is the name of one of Tolkien's Hobbits, and that's what surfing will net you!) Some times the game is called Ring and Pin Game. This graphic is a detail from a French print pictured in J. Slocum & J. Botermans, Puzzles Old & New (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992, p.142) which states that the game was popular in France as early as the 16th century. An observant viewer has pointed out - that the clothes worn by those in the print are from the 18th century - not the 16th century.

The word Bilboquet (a French word) does not appear in most English dictionaries; however English words like bilbo - a kind of iron bar shackle used to restrain the feet of prisoners, or bilbo - a finely tempered sword from Bilboa (Spain) - are defined. Bilboa, Spain is Basque country - an area noted for the origins of Jai Alai - a game which uses a type of "catcher" and a "ball". It is also an area that since ancient times has seen an influx of people from many parts of the world, including Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, and more. The French word Bilboquet is related to the French word bille - translated as either a "little stick" or a child's "glass marble". In any event, those that study the origins of language report that the word Bilboquet appears in the French language as early as 1534ad.

There is evidence of the wide spread play of the game. European paintings indicate that Bilboquet was played in the royal courts of Europe (and probably on the streets as well.) Since the game is found in such diverse areas of the world as Japan, Mexico, the Arctic, and among North American Indian tribes, Bilboquet like many games, was obviously copied from equipment carried by travelers in the years prior to the 20th century.

Playing Bilboquet

The picture on the left is a copy of a 1970 Inuit print by Eyeetowak Toolaaktouk. There are many variations of Bilboquet. As this picture illustrates, the intent of the game is to throw a tethered object or objects into the air and catch it/them on a peg/pin. In general there are two major modes. One mode is with a ball (or ball-like object) that is attached to a handle (or peg/pin) tethered to the ball. A stylized cup-like object is also attached to the handle. Variations exist with respect to the shape of the cup - multiple cups, etc., and the shape of the handle. The second mode uses tethered rings that are to be caught on a peg/pin, and these variations are reflected in the shape of the pin or the number of tethered rings. A general variation is the length of the tether in either mode, or the weight of the object that is to be caught. Many of these variations can be seen in the examples shown in this exhibit. Each example features a handle or peg/pin, and a stylized cup or rings. The mode of play and the eventual outcome varies from game to game. Only one player may play at a time.

click on a picture below for more information
French Italian Finnish Japanese Japanese
Peruvian Columbian Mexican Mexican Mexican
Pommawanga Chippewayan Inuit Inuit Commercial

Thanks to the The Museum & Archive of Games, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

*Juguetes Tradicionales

BOLICHE. Juguete generalmente de madera, compuesto de un palo y una bola taladrada sujeta a éste por un hilo más o menos largo. La técnica del juego se reduce a ensartar en el palo, sostenido firme en la mano, la bola, o la que se imprime moviendo hacia arriba; ello requiere una práctica y educación de la vista. Al parecer, el boliche tuvo su origen en Francia, donde se le conocía con el nombre de bilboquet y fue practicado en otros tiempos con gran estusiasmo, adquiriendo categoría de juego de salón, ya que competíase en elegantes reuniones sociales. Y tanto llegó a apasionar el hoy modestísimo boliche o balero, como se le conoce en los países de América, que hoy el mismo rey Enrique III lo adoptó como pasatiempo predilecto. Este juguete, que los niños se procuran ahora muy cómodamente perforando una bola o simplemente un envase viejo de ojalata, fue en épocas pasadas objeto lujoso y estimado. Se fabrican en gran tamaño en marfil, y de oro en pequeño, y aún más, se instalaron academias para adquirir mayor habilidad y destreza. Juego de tan prestigiosa ascendencia, pasatiempo de reyes y literatos, no está hoy en decadencia pues continúa a través de todos los tiempos teniendo adeptos numerosos entre los niños y adolecentes, sobre todo en ciertas épocas en que suele ponerse de moda.

Traditional Toys
The Balero

Boliche, as it was once known. A toy generally made out
of wood, which is made up of a round smooth stick and
a round carved piece of wood tied together by a some
what long piece of thin rope. The way to play this
game is to firmly hold the stick in your hand and with
precise movements that form an arc, the ball is to be
impaled onto the stick. This takes learning and a lot
of practice, this is normally done by watching someone
else doing it. Then with a lot of care, one learns they too, can do it.
It seems that "Boliche" started in France, where it
was known by the name of "bilboquet" and was a
favorite pass time for many. It even became a
gentleman's game, in that it was played as a sport
during reunions. So much so that the balero (as it is
known in America today) is still played. The game was
liked so much that King Henry III adopted it as a
favorite pass time.
This toy, (that children can make by tying a stick to
an old can) was at one time considered very precious in
that large ones were made out of Ivory and small ones
were made out of Gold. At one time there were schools
dedicated solely to the teaching of how to play the
A game so well revered by scholars and Kings, is still
being played today by millions. You never know when
the love of this game can start a new trend again.

*From Universidad Veracruzana Periodicos para Ninos

"Song of the Balero"-"MELÔ do BILBOQUÊ" by Edinho Paraguassu

Free mp3 file Download MELÔ do BILBOQUÊ 2.28Mb

Agradecimentos Edinho Paraguassu, Sao Paulo, Brazil,

Em Português:






In English:

Let's play, Let's play, play with balero

Let's play, Let's play, play with balero

capture it there, capture it here

Throw, Throw untill it is clear

capture it there, capture it here

Throw, Throw untill it is clear

Playing with balero, is a whole lot of fun

Who never captured the barrel, one day will capture it

Playing with balero, is fun, a whole lot

Who captured once the barrel, will capture it again

Balero is a game, Balero is a toy, Balero is fun to play with


BALERO (How to make a cup and ball type balero from
Con un pico de botella desechable, una pelota de goma, un pedazo de palo de escoba y un trozo de chaura, podemos fabricar este juguete.
El balero es un juguete de origen italiano cuya difusión se extendió a Francia alrededor del año 1550.
Actualmente es un juguete y juego tradicional con amplia difusión en casi todos los países de América Latina, adoptando algunas variantes en distintas regiones, pero manteniendo las características fundamentales que todos conocemos.

BALERO: With a top of disposable bottle, a ball of rubber, a broom stick piece and a piece of cord, one can manufacture this toy. The balero is an Italian toy of origin whose diffusion extended to France around the year 1550. At present it is a toy and traditional game with extensive diffusion in almost all the countries of America Latina, adopting some variantes in distinct regions, but maintaining the fundamental characteristics that all know.

El Balero (From

A primera vista los juguetes tradicionales no parecen tener mayor gracia, quizá porque generalmente los materiales que se utilizan en su fabricación son comunes y corrientes y porque sólo cobran vida cuando se les manipula. Por ejemplo el balero, para cuya confección no hace falta sino un pedazo de madera debidamente torneado, un palo y una cuerda.

Pero esta aparente falta de gracia termina cuando se comienza a jugar. Hacer un capirucho no es cualquier cosa, pero hacer diez, 20 o más, uno tras otro, es un acto digno de admiración que requiere de mucha práctica y que no cualquiera logra.

El balero tuvo su origen en Italia en el siglo XVI. Con algunas variaciones se juega todavía en el continente hispano americano.

The Balero

When you first look at an old toy it does not look all
that inviting, maybe because the material that is used
is so common, just a piece of worked wood, a stick and a piece of
string,  and because they only summon up life when life is manipulated into them, for instance, The Balero.

But this lack of interest ends when you start to play.
To do capirucho is not a big thing, but to do ten, 20 or more, one after another, is an act worthy of admiration, that requires much practice, and that not just anyone can obtain.

The history of The Balero has its origin in Italy
during the XVI century. With a few variations it is
still played in the Latin American continent today.

1950's USA Balero - Bob-a-Loop

box1.gif (275408 bytes)box2.gif (275408 bytes)

Click on thumbnail to enlarge and see throw descriptions. Fishing is Recto, Catcha" Bob-a- Loop is Columpiando, Piggyback is Capirucho, Orbit is Windmill, Sudden Death is Lanzando el Palo, and the Ring and Bracelet are unique "body wrap" throws.


Around the time of the American Revolution a European game played with cup and ball was introduced to Japan from China. The original design has been modified over the years. The object of the game is to land a ball attached by a string on either the point or in one of three different sized cups on the ken. There are a variety of techniques used to accomplish this goal with each receiving a special name such as "airplane." This is more than just a childs game. This game exemplifies the Japanese philosophy of kokoro no nebari (persistence) and shinen (concentration). Through these two behaviors one can be successful in Japan. These two behaviors permeate every aspect of life in Japan. They also cause many Japanese to believe they are invinciable.