Con ball throwing is a popular folk game many the ethnic Thai ethnic minority people in Viet Nam’s northwestern region. While playing the games, Thai girls and boys have a chance to find their partners and express their love.
Long ago, while working in the rice fields, Thai girls made a game from throwing sheaves of rice plants to each other. Gradually, the sheaves were replaced with Con or fabric ball.
Con ball throwing has become a popular game among the Thai who believe that playing the game will bring them happiness, trust, and prosperity.
During their major festivals including Long Tong or Going to the Field, Genie Worshipping, and Lunar New Year festivals, Con throwing is an important game.
Tong Thi Than from Muong Cang commune, Than Uyen district, Lai Chau province said, “When spring comes, we make Con balls to play with at festivals. Con throwing is part of our tradition. The game is closely associated with the Thai people who live on wet rice land”.
A Con ball is as big as an orange and is decorated with colorful patterns representing the richness of the universe, and stuffed with rice grains, cotton, sesame, and mustard seeds and beans, which represent the hopes for growth, longevity, and prosperity.
Using a square cloth of 20 cm on each side, Thai girls stitch the three corners of the cloth and leave the other corner open to stuff seeds in.
The string of the ball is about 50 cm long. A beautiful con ball depends on the quality and colors of the cloth. Four corners of the ball are decorated with colorful fringes representing the four directions.
The fringes at the end of the string and under the ball represent heaven and earth. The ball with more colorful fringes is more beautiful and brings more luck, happiness, and prosperity.
Everyone wants to have the most beautiful ones in the festival to play with.
The game is held in a large village yard or on a harvested rice field where a large crowd can gather.
Local people set up a bamboo pole 9 -15 meters high on the flat ground. At the top of the pole, there is a ring about 50cm in diameter.
Khoang Thi Duyen in Lai Chau said, “If the players throw the ball through the ring hung on the top of the bamboo pillar, they are the winners and will have best luck throughout the year.”
“The players can also be divided into two teams and throw the ball to each other. The winner will be the one who catches the ball. The losers will then have to present the winners with scarves, hats, shirts, and bracelets as gifts of honor,” she added.
Over the years, with its spiritual and cultural values, the game has been continued and remains one of the most popular among the Thai people.