On Amorgos, the region of Aegiali has retained its name since the Ancient time, for 2,800 years. There are still many ancient customs kept alive in daily social life, such as the ancient games played in the two old villages, Langada and Tholaria.

The Tholarians play the ancient form of bowling, which the locals call “ball”. The “balls” consist of 9 wooden poles, which are chipped on top and take the form of a bottle. Eight of them are about twice the size of a bottle of beer while the ninth is smaller, about half of the others.

The “balls” are placed in a regular quadrilateral form. Each player tries, from a specified distance, to knock down as many “balls” as possible. For each “ball” someone knocks down he gets one point. The exception is the smallest, which is placed in the middle and is scored 9 points. It’s the so-called “Nine”.

The balls need to be very durable because of the hard blows they receive. The best are made of yarn or fig root, which makes them hard but still they retain their elasticity.
The “balls” are played by two teams. Each group can have up to 4 people. The game ends when a team achieves exactly 31 points.

In Langada the “balls” players are divided into two groups, consisting of two or three players, so-called “balladers”. Each player has at his disposal two wooden balls of different dimensions and weights, depending on his choice.

The reference point of the game is a small ball, called the “cost”. The team which throw at least one ball closest to the “cost” wins the lot. The more balls one team has near the “cost” the more points they earn. The game ends when a team gains exactly 21 points.

The “balladers” of Langada give names to their balls, in the old times they used to give them the nickname of the best players. The prize for the winning team used to be doughnuts, today it is raki with meze.

Published in Explore Nature Magazine (No 5)