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Traditional children's games


The Folklore Archive of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina contains over 3,300 entries on group games, most of them children's games. Some of the most common and widespread games include: hide-and-seek, hopscotch, tag, “What's the time, Mr Wolf” (similar to “Mother, may I?”), and cat and mouse.

Some games reflected the social constructs of gender of the time: girls imitated household chores, family relations, or social mores (playing at keeping house, wives, brides); boys' games contained elements of rivalry, competition, and demonstrations of strength and other bodily attributes and abilities (tip-cat, javelin throw, stone put, sack race).

Games such as nine men's Morris demanded from children a demonstration of intellectual ability. Children showed great creativity in coming up with their own games and making their own toys. They used objects from their immediate surroundings, changing their original function: in the hands of a creative and imaginative child, any object – from a stone or a piece of wood to a piece of clothing or furniture – could become a toy.

Written records and photographs of traditional children's games are kept in the Folklore Archive of the Ethnology Department, where they may be accessed by prior arrangement with department staff.