Uuchuur | Mongolia

Name in Original Language

Үүчүүр

Area Where Played

Mongolia

History

Traditionally during the greetings of the first day of the Lunar New Year, Mongolians would taste the meal and dairy products after exchanging snuff bottles (Mongolian form of greeting). Everyone in the ger (traditional Mongolian home), from the host to the guests, would throw ankle bones to make “four difficulties,” and analyze their general trends and individual luck in the coming new year.

After of which, the guests would gather to play the game “Uuchuur,” in the family home where the greetings had taken place. Everyone is honored to play “Uuchuur” on the first days of the new year, because it is believed that winning the game is a good omen for the new year. If somehow a player missed playing the round of “Uuchuur” on the first day of the new year, he/she may play the game on the second day of the new year, to makeup for the unlucky gap. When the “Uuchuur” game is played, every player, no matter the age, should participate; that even includes infants or bed-bound elders, who would play as their parents and spouses throw the dices on their behalf.

Detailed Description

The Game set consists of 134 cards on which images of 8 types of animals are shown and six wooden dices. Each animal has its own rank and value which is expressed by the word “Lan” (traditional weight measuring unit for precious metals such as silver) and listing of rank and values are:

  1. Birds: 64 cards, one Lan each, 64 Lans in total
  2. Rabbits: 32 cards, 2 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  3. Musk deer: 16 cards, 4 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  4. Deer: 8 cards, 8 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  5. Hawk: 4 cards, 7 Lans each, 28 Lans (Hawk and dog are considered as having the same rank and their value 64 Lans (28+36) in total
  6. Dog: 3 cards, 12 Lans each, combined with hawk, 64 Lans in total
  7. Leopard: 4 cards, 16 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  8. Tiger: 2 cards, 32 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  9. Lion: 1 card, 64 Lan.

 

Upon the start of the game, all of the animals are lined according to the values and ranks following the lion. It is assumed that if the Uuchuur is played on the first day of Lunar New Year, it becomes the religious mantra enchanting treatment for that year2.

The game players shall be seated and divided into two sides. A total of 6 dices shall be thrown one by one. The players take their share from the rich earth’s abundant fund and/or hunting animals according to the rule by the upside dice numbers/eyes. One dice eye is called as concave and four eyes are red, two eyes are tug, three eyes are slope, five eyes are yellow, and six eyes are spine and generally all 6 types dice eyes are called as “black”. When player throw dices and results are:  

  • If the dices show one red (one dice shows 4 eyes), the player takes a bird,
  • If the dices show 2 reds (two dices show 4 eyes), the player takes a rabbit,
  • If the dices show 3 reds, the player takes a deer,
  • If the dices show 4 reds, the player takes a leopard,
  • If the dices show 5 reds, the player takes a tiger,
  • If the dices show 6 reds, the player takes a lion.  
  • If the dices show one concave, the players say as “chug” and “sleeps”,
  • If the 2 concaves became equal to others two by two, the player takes musk deer and rabbit,  
  • If the dices show 3 concaves, the player takes a hawk etc.,  

and further eye combinations of 6 dices are put in “Rule”  section.   

The game continues as it is described above and the part who collected the greater amount of Lan wins.

If the Uuchuur is played and the lion is made sick of scabies, there is the tradition not to play the Uuchuur for 3 years in a row. Developing scabies in the lion means that both parties count all “Lan” – accumulated value of all animals they took due to score of dice thrown and the game rule and the party who possess lion use his/her lion for deducting/covering values of the counterpart’s low rated animals such as birds, rabbits, musk deer, hawks and dogs.                   

When throwing the dices to take the lion, the player lays the birds underneath by respecting the value of lion and cheers up as “Sir Lion, Ulai, Ulai” (Get red! Get red!) and giving away his/her lion for debt payment  is considered as very bad occassion. Also a player, who is taking the lion due to score of dice thrown, enchants as:

“Save and mercy, the king of animals

We did not hunt you intentionally

We hunted you by the luck”.

Generally, the players prefer not to keep silent and calm down by saying “the trough should exist when the dogs exist“ as a reply to the saying “it is the concave where the dogs are secured”, and if the deer stands, they say symbolizing words such as:

“The blessings of abundant earth

The grace of the high heaven, we receive by praying

Let the blessings of deer spread” and when the bird stands, the players say joyful and nice words as:

“The small one of the gain is tasty,

It is good if it is a bird,

It will become a witch if the greed is more”

Also, during the disclosure, for instance, if it becomes close to take the tiger and exceeds by becoming 6 reds (six dices show 4 eyes), the player cannot take by saying “burnt”. In such case, the players say “Did the tiger skin pierce, oh, how pitiable skin!” or if the player wanted to take the lion but exceeds the 7 concaves and it became 8 concaves, the players tease as “You put your lion into the well”, if it stands 7 reds, players say “You have no ways other than eating the lion meat by frying?” The players say and enjoy such wise and teasing words and praises. If small children, who is participating in the Game takes, lion or deer, players take it as a good omen and say “He is a man who can hunt  lion” or “You have a son who will hunt deer”. Even small children take birds, players fondle by saying “Be the sharp shooter!”. At the end of game, players count the lans and praise the winning party as follows:

“Enrich your properties and furniture more

Accumulate twice greater lans until the next year”

and encourage (?) the lost party as:

“You are lost not because you are bad

The eyes of the dices are confused

The luck of father’s son is lightly offended

I can lend you any amount of lans

Just tell me when you need

And come to me” and finishes the game. There is a tradition to place the lion card always on top when packing and putting away the game cards after the Game. .

Rules

When playing the Uuchuur, players are divided into two parties, one manages the game and throws the dices in the plate. If the players number of both parties are not equal,  the party that is short of one player is allowed to make extra turn throwing dice on behalf of vacant player.

The Game set consists of 134 cards on which images of 8 types of animals are shown and six wooden dices. Each animal has its own rank and value which is expressed by the word “Lan” (traditional weight measuring unit for precious metals such as silver) and listing of rank and values are:

  1. Birds: 64 cards, one Lan each, 64 Lans in total
  2. Rabbits: 32 cards, 2 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  3. Musk deer: 16 cards, 4 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  4. Deer: 8 cards, 8 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  5. Hawk: 4 cards, 7 Lans each, 28 Lans (Hawk and dog are considered as having the same rank and their value 64 Lans (28+36) in total
  6. Dog: 3 cards, 12 Lans each, combined with hawk, 64 Lans in total
  7. Leopard: 4 cards, 16 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  8. Tiger: 2 cards, 32 Lans each, 64 Lans in total
  9. Lion: 1 card, 64 Lan.

 

First of all, the identity of this game is a symbol of numbers. 8 types of hunting animals is multiplied by digit 8 and equals to 64 (8*8=64) Lans, totally, the sum of digits of 134 cards is 8 (1+3+4) and according to this meaning, it can be understood that the Uuchuur is the game created by the symbols of number 8.

As for the playing rule, the players shall be seated and divided into two sides. A total of 6 dices shall be thrown one by one. The players take their share from the rich earth’s abundant fund and/or hunting animals according to the rule by the upside dice numbers/eyes. The side that collected the greater amount of lans wins. One dice eye is called concave and one eyes is red, two eyes is tug, three eyes is slope, five eyes is yellow, and six eyes is spine and generally all 6 types dice eyes are called as “black”.

  • If the dices show one red, the player takes a bird,
  • If the dices show 2 reds, the player takes a rabbit,
  • If the dices show 3 reds, the player takes a deer,
  • If the dices show 4 reds, the player takes a leopard,
  • If the dices show 5 reds, the player takes a tiger,
  • If the dices show 6 reds, the player takes a lion.  
  • If the dices show one concave, the players say as “chug” and “sleeps”,
  • If the 2 concaves became equal to others two by two, the player takes musk deer and rabbit,  
  • If the dices show 3 concaves, the player takes a hawk,
  • If the dices show 4 concaves, the player takes a dog,
  • If the dices show 5 concaves, the player takes a leopard,
  • If the dices show 6 concaves, the player takes a tiger,
  • If the dices show 7 concaves, the player takes a lion.  
  • If there are 3 concaves and 3 reds, the player takes deer and hawk.
  • If there are one red, 2 tugs, one slope, one five eyes, and one concave, the player takes a bird,  
  • If there are 2 reds, one five eyes, 2 six eyes, and one concave, the player takes a rabbit,
  • If there are 4 five eyes, one slope, and one concave, the player takes amusk deer,
  • If there are 2 five eyes, 3 slopes, and one six  eyes, the player takes a dog,
  • If there are 5 same dark eyes without any red eyes, the player takes a dog,
  • If there are 5 same dark eyes with the red eye, the player says “bird secured the dog” and takes a bird,
  • If there are 5 dark eyes with one concave, the player says “bird secured the dog” and takes nothing. Likewise players continue the game throwing dices one time in his/her turn and taking cards to the finish, next part of the Game begins.

 

In the gaming ritual2, if the dices show 6 different sides after throwing, it is said that it became “square eyes”. When the “square eyes” is shown, the player has encouragement and luck to take one from all the images other than the animals for disclosure and throws again as a bonus. If he or she gets “square eyes” again, the player shall take one from all of the animals. The side who gets the “square eyes” at the beginning of the game wins. Also, the event of “running the hawk and rabbit” is assumed as lucky. If there will be “the hawk and rabbit” and/or 2 pieces of four eyes and 3 pieces of concaves and/or one eye, the player says “run, run hawk and rabbit” and has the right to throw the dices again until it “sleeps”. Generally, if the dices show one piece of four eyes, one concave, and other dices show the dark color and stand on different sides, it becomes the best show; the more the four eyes of dices or red eyes, the better the standing. On the contrary,  the worst standing will be one concave or one eye. If the concave stands together with all dark eyes on rest of dices, the player shall “sleep”. In principle, if the players gets 4 same dark eyes or dark eyes paired two by two, the player shall take the musk deer. But if it is followed by one concave dark, it means a “sleep”.

Lucky dice standings with gains:

  • If there are one red and the others are dark, the player will take a bird,
  • If there are 2 reds and others are dark, the player will take a rabbit,
  • If there are 2 reds and others blacks equal by two, in some counties, the player will take a musk deer,
  • If there are 2 reds and others 4 dices show blacks, the player will take both of musk der and rabbit,
  • If there are 4 blacks or equal black by two by two, the player will take a musk deer,
  • If there are 3 concaves, the player will take a hawk /if there is one red, it will add a bird/
  • If there are 3 concaves and 3 reds, the player will take both of hawk and musk der,
  • If there are 3 concaves and 2 reds, the player will say “the hawk and rabbit are running” and throws until the dice shows “empty”,
  • If there are 3 reds and other dices show black or concave, the player will take a deer,
  • If there are 3 reds and others show the 3 same eyes, the player will take both of deer and musk deer,
  • If there are 5similar blacks or 4 concaves, the player will take a dog,
  • If there are “ similar blacks,2 similar blacks and one different black, the player will take a dog also,
  • If there are 4 reds or 5 concaves, the player will take a leopard,
  • If there are 5 reds or 6 concaves, the player will take a tiger,
  • If there are 6 reds or 7 concaves, the player will take a lion.

Standings “Sleep” and/or “empty saddle bag”:

  • 3 similar blacks, 2 similar blacks and one concave,
  • 3 similar blacks, 3different blacks,
  • 2 similar blacks, 2 similar blacks, one different black and one concave,
  • 4or 5 similar blacks, one concave (i.e., although it has the possibility to take things equal to blacks, it has one concave and thus, it becomes “empty saddle bag”),
  • 2 similar blacks, 2 similar blacks, 2 concaves (in some counties, it is called as red equality and takes a hawk.

When the images corresponding to the dice standings are all taken, the player shall take the lans from the existing images. For instance: if the dog stands when the dog is finished, the player shall take 12 birds or 6 rabbits or 4 musk deer or one deer and 2 rabbits. When the items of the fund are all gone, the player shall take from the items of another player. If the player drops the dices from the plate during the game, it will have the penalty to return the animals standing on the plate by the number of the dropped dices. If the player does not have such animal, he will pay by the value. If the “square eyes” stand and drops the dices, the player shall return one from every animal. Generally, if such animal stands when taking, it should be taken by the value. For example, if the images of birds are finished, the player will take one rabbit and return one bird. If a dog stands when the images for dogs are finished, the player shall take 12 birds or 6 rabbits or one deer and 2 rabbits and trade with each other.