Gasing

Gasing is a game which spins and maintains its spinning at a focal point to the ground. It is one of the oldest traditional games played and is still being researched by archaeologists on its origin. It is a game for the young and old. Some people play gasing for gambling and fortune telling.

Most gasings are made of wood, but some are also made from plastic and other materials. The wood is carved and constructed until it becomes its main ‘body’. The other material used is nylon string. The string of some traditional gasing is made from the bark of a tree. The length of the string depends on the arm-length of the player.

The spinning effect of the gasing is gyroscopic. When the gasing is initially spun, it remains unsteady for a few seconds but will later ‘rise’, until the momentum decreases and it will fall to the ground.

Gasing is a traditional game played in the Malay Archipelago, although how it first came about is not known.

In Pulau Tujuh and on the Riau Islands, gasing has been played long before the Dutch colonial period. But in North Sulawesi, gasing was known to be played in the 1930s. Gasing is popular with the young and old. Most of the time, it is being played around the village’s compound on the hard ground. Gasing can be played individually or in teams according to the norms of each area or village. Until now, it is still being played all over Indonesia. On the Riau Islands, competitions are frequently being organised to promote the game. In Demak, gasing is played after a rainy season, when the weather is hot which makes the ground conditions hard. The people of Bengkulu celebrate the Muslim New Year (1 Muharram) by playing gasing among other celebrations.

Gasing has different names in different places. In West Java and Jakarta, it is called ‘panggal’. In Lampung, it is called ‘pukang’. The people of East Kalimantan calls it ‘begasing’. In Maluku, it is known as ‘apiong’. In West Nusantara, it is called ‘maggasing’. Only the people of Jambi, Bengkulu, West Sumatra and Riau Islands calls it simply as gasing.

The Bugis people from South Sulawesi calls it ‘Maggasing’ or ‘aggasing’. The people of Bolaang Mangondow in North Sulawesi calls it ‘paki’. Those from East Javarean calls it ‘kekehan’. In Yogyakarta, gasing is known either as
‘gansingan’ if it is made of bamboo, or ‘pathon’ if it is made of wood.

Gasing comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs based on the different locations. Some are shaped like an onion, some are flat and others are cylindrical. There are also those shaped like a flying saucer. There are three parts to a gasing: the top (head), the ‘body’ and the nail (leg).

Gasing in Ambon has a ‘head’ and a ‘neck’. Generally, the gasing in Jakarta and West Java has a ‘head’ and a ‘leg’ (nail). In Natuna, no information has been made available.

Gasing is played for its sound, spin and ‘hit’.

Gasing is not a difficult game to play. An important thing to note is that one should throw the gasing by releasing its string, and this should be done without hesitation.

Ways to play gasing:

1. Hold the gasing with your left hand and the string with your right.
2. Coil the string tightly to the ‘body’ of the gasing and throw it strongly to the ground.

– Translated by AK Hassan & Amelia Irene

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