Tugging rituals and games


Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© B Plus Pictures, 2014
Tugging rituals and games in the rice-farming cultures of East Asia and Southeast Asia are enacted among communities to ensure abundant harvests and prosperity. They promote social solidarity, provide entertainment and mark the start of a new agricultural cycle. Many tugging rituals and games also have profound religious significance. Most variations include two teams, each of which pulls one end of a rope attempting to tug it from the other. The intentionally uncompetitive nature of the event removes the emphasis on winning or losing, affirming that these traditions are performed to promote the well-being of the community, and reminding members of the importance of cooperation. Many tugging games bear the traces of agricultural rituals, symbolizing the strength of natural forces, such as the sun and rain while also incorporating mythological elements or purification rites. Tugging rituals and games are often organized in front of a village’s communal house or shrine, preceded by commemorative rites to local protective deities. Village elders play active roles in leading and organizing younger people in playing the game and holding accompanying rituals. Tugging rituals and games also serve to strengthen unity and solidarity and sense of belonging and identity among community members.