Five Marys | Brazil

Name in Original Language

Cinco Marias

Area Where Played



The most remote version of the origins of this game claims that it has existed for over 20 centuries. In this version, it is believed that the Greeks used to call it “Astragalissimo” and the Romans called it “Pentalia.” They used to throw little bones and observe the way the bones fall as a way to consult their gods. Because of that, the game was also known as the “bone’s game.” After the expansion of the Roman Empire, the game began to spread to many places. This might explain the theory that the game came to Brazil along with the Portuguese colonization. It may also be the reason why the game is called Cinco Marias in Brazil, for Portugal was once a very catholic country.

Detailed Description

This game is largely played by Brazilian children all over the nation. Mainly played by girls, it is a fun game that is used as a recreational activity.
Simple and versatile, the game does not require the use of specific locations or any hard-to-find materials. The player only needs to have the knowledge of the rules and 5 little objects of similar sizes in order to play the game.
The objects (called Marys) can be almost anything, like stones, bones or bottle caps. Despite that, regular players make their own instruments to play. In general, people sew little bags with pieces of cloth filed with rice or sand to make the Marys. With the five Marys in hand, now they just need to know the rules.
During the game, the players must follow some tasks divided in phases. To win the game you must finish the tasks before the other players. The game can also be played by a single player, without the competition.


There is more than one way of playing the game. The most commonly seen version is divided in 5 phases:
The players must throw all of the five bags on the floor. After that, the player must pick one to hold without touching the other four. The chosen bag will be thrown up and the player must now pick another one to hold while the bag that was thrown is still in the air. After picking the second bag, the player must catch the first one with the same hand before it touches the ground. These moves must be done for each one of the four bags on the floor.
The second phase is similar to the first, but instead of taking just one bag at a time, the player must pick two of them while the bag that was thrown is still in the air.
In this phase, the player will pick just one bag in the first throw and the other three at the second throw.
This phase follows the same rules of the others, but now the player will pick all the four bags at the same time and catch the one that was thrown.
In this last phase the players will start just like the others, by throwing all the five Marys on the floor and picking one of them to throw upwards. The difference now is that instead of just picking up one bag while the first one is in the air, the player will make a tunnel with the other hand and will have to pass one bag at a time through it while the first bag (that was thrown up) is still in the air.