Asian games exhibit to open at anthropology museum

By Cheryl Walker
May 13, 2005

Many of the games most common to the United States have found their way here from other parts of the world. "Asian Games: The Art of the Contest," an exhibit opening May 31 at Wake Forest University's Museum of Anthropology, highlights the paramount importance of Asia as a source of many games, including chess, backgammon, parcheesi, playing cards and polo. The exhibit runs through August 16.

19th century hand-painted mughul ganjifa card

19th century hand-painted
mughul ganjifa card

By exploring the evolution and social functions of games in Asia and their transmission to other regions, the exhibit illuminates important yet unfamiliar aspects of Asian cultures and their ongoing legacy.

The exhibition features four broad categories or types of games: chance; strategy; memory and matching; and power and dexterity. Card games, board games and ball games are all included. The exhibit is structured to suggest the impact of particular games and the cultural values of their players.

The Museum of Anthropology will offer two special activities in conjunction with "Asian Games." Family Day, featuring games that originated in Asia and refreshments, will be held on Saturday, July 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. William Kelly, professor of anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University, will talk about the reasons behind the extreme popularity of baseball in Japan on Thursday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the exhibit and special events is free.

The Museum of Anthropology is located on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Hours are 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call (336) 758-5282 for information and to confirm Saturday hours, which are sometimes reduced during the summer. Visit the museum's Web site at

"Asian Games: The Art of the Contest" has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is presented by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance, and was organized by The Asia Society, New York, New York. Presentation of "Asian Games" at the Museum of Anthropology has also been made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a foundation supported by state and federal funds and private gifts, whose purpose is to encourage and assist public education activities in the humanities for adults.

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