Tugging rituals and games

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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.

A referee, who is a village elder, counts from one to three for the two tugging teams to start pulling the rope.
An elderly women encourages one side of the tugging team to exert all the energy to win the competition.
Two tugging teams are trying to pull the rope in order to win each other.
Arrival of participants from Barangay Baang bearing the pakid decorated with dong-a leaves. In front are women and children waving the red leaves as they march to the river.
The contending men from Barangay Hapao in the foreground and Barangay Baang. Due to the strong current in the original site of the Punnuk, the actual tugging was transferred to another part of the river where the water was less violent.
The Viet in Huu Chap village, Bac Ninh province chose wealthy young men in the 'unstained' families participating in the tugging game and divided them into two teams: East and West. The East always wins, symbolising a good harvest.
Tugging festival in Huong Canh village, Vinh Phuc province. Tugging cord is made of an approximately 50 meter-length rattan cord. Tugging game and ritual of this community is considered a demonstration of the old navy training of King Ngo Quyen.
The participants of Gijisi Juldarigi pulling the female rope to the place where the game will be held.
The participants of Gijisi Juldarigi pulling each strand of the rope during tugging ritual.
Part of Yeongsan Juldarigi tugging ritual held on a commercial street.