Iyga | Greece

Name in Original Language

Ίυγξ

Area Where Played

Greece

History

Ίυγξ (Ιynx) was the name of a nymph, daughter of the god Pan (half-man, half-goat) and the nymph Echo (Ηχώ). Iynx had enchanted Zeus with her song and thus the god fell in love with Io, daughter of the king of Argus, Inachos. Zeus’ consort, the goddess Hera, was so enraged that she transformed Iynx into a bird, the wagtail or wryneck. This bird became ever since associated with love magic and love divination and so did the game. The prop used for playing it consisted of a rhomboid or disc-like lamella, with two or four holes at the centre. Such objects, made of metal or clay or, sometimes, ivory/bone were discovered during excavations, mostly as grave goods. It was played mostly by girls and young women.

Detailed Description

This game had strong associations to divination and love magic in antiquity. On the disc or rhomboid lamella were sometimes carved magical words or verses with a love-related subject. On a mosaic from Pompeii it is a cupid depicted using the iynx, which underlines its relation to love and charming.

Rules

A piece of thin rope or wool or leather passed from the holes of a rhomboid or disc-like lamella and were tied at one end, thus looking like two ropes; both ends were held by the player. The latter performed circular movements with her hands, thus giving impetus to the jynx. Then, all of a sudden she stretched the ropes and the jynx continued to turn around them, with the former impetus, making a sound reminding of a murmur. When performed for magical purposes or divination, this sound was supposed to charm the boy or man that the girl or woman wanted to conquer.