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  • Ann Parry Owen

Gemau a Chwaraeon yn yr 17eg ganrif

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Ymysg y rhestrau geiriau a luniodd yr ysgrifydd John Jones o Gellilyfdy pan oedd yng ngharchar y Fflyd yn y 1630au, ceir y rhestr ddiddorol hon o chwaraeon a gemau. Dyma’r 49fed allan o 130 rhestr ganddo ac fe’i lluniwyd tua diwedd 1632. Mae’n gymysg o gemau a chwaraeon plant ac oedolion ac, fel sy’n arferol ganddo, mae’n dilyn trefn thematig yn hytrach na threfn yr wyddor.

Ar ôl cyfres o eiriau cyffredinol, mae’n cychwyn gyda gemau plant (9–14). Mae chwarae chwyrligwgan (12) ‘troi top’ a chwarae mig ymguddied (13) ‘chwarae cuddio’ yn ddigon cyfarwydd. Prin yw’r cyfeiriadau at chwarae buarth baban y tu allan i’r rhestr hon, ond disgrifir y buarth baban yn y geiriadur (GPC) fel rhyw fath o ffon danllyd a droellid i ddifyrru plentyn. Peryglus! Mae chwarae dwylo gwynion (10) yn ddirgelwch, ond ceir disgrifiad da o chwarae minddu manddell (11) gan y geiriadurwr Thomas Wiliems o Drefriw wrth iddo ddiffinio’r Lladin digitis micare yn ei eiriadur (Peniarth 228, 1604–7): ‘pan fo un yn codi’i fysedd a’r llall, yn troi ymaith oddi wrtho, a ddyfala pesawl un a gyfyd ef … yng Nghymru Chwarae Minddu Manddell’. Gêm ddyfalu faint o fysedd felly. Methais ddod o hyd i esboniad am chwarae cat i’r wern (144), ond mae nifer o gemau plant yn yn cynnwys yr elfen cat neu gath.


Mae’r chwech nesaf (15–20) yn gemau taro. Mae’n bosibl mai fersiwn ar gnapan yw horling pen ffon (15), gêm o daro pêl bren galed â ffon. Wrth drafod y gêm hurling yng Nghernyw meddai George Owen o Henllys (1552–1613): This plaie is vsed in Wales, and the balle is called Knappan … and our ancient cozens the Cornishmen haue the selfe same exercise among them yet obserued, which they call hurlinge. Posibilrwydd arall yw mai rhyw fath o hoci yw horling pen ffon, tebyg i’r hurling traddodiadol a chwaraeir yn Iwerddon.


Mae’r siŵr mai ffurf ar coetan yw coeta (16), sef ‘quoits’, gêm o daflu cylch dros bèg, a dyna hefyd yw pedoli’r gaseg (20), ond gan ddefnyddio pedolau ceffyl yn lle’r cylchoedd arferol. Roedd caelys (17) yn dipyn o ddirgelwch i mi nes dod o hyd i gyfeiriad yng nghyfrol Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes, at gêm o’r enw kayles (o’r Ffrangeg quilles), a chwaraeid ‘many centuries ago, with the players throwing a stick at the “kittle pins”, the tallest of which was the “king pin”.’ Dyna darddiad y gair kingpin felly! Roedd nawtwll (18) yn gêm arall yn seiliedig ar gael pêl i darged (OED nineholes ‘Any of various games of skill involving nine target holes, spots, etc.’) ac mae’n siŵr mai’r un fath o gêm yw sitenna (19), er na lwyddais i ddod o hyd i unrhyw wybodaeth amdani.


Nesaf cawn gyfres o gemau yn ymwneud â tharo pêl â bat, llaw, neu droed: chwarae pêl ddwylo (21) a chwarae pêl draed (22) – ac mae’n ddiddorol mai traed, nid troed, a geir yn y cyfeiriadau cynharaf at y gêm hon. Wedyn chwarae tenys (23) a chwarae palet (24) sy’n debygol o fod yn fersiynau ar real tennis neu royal tennis, rhagflaenydd ein tennis modern ni, yna chwarae’r humog (25) sydd eto’n gêm o daro pêl, ond y tro hwn â human, sef bat fforchog, fel y disgrifiodd John Jones ef yn 1618: Human: fforch i chware â phêl. Mae’n bosibl mai rhyw fath o hoci yw bwrw’r gamog (26), ond ni ellir bod yn sicr.


Gemau neu chwaraeon a ddisgrifir yn draddodiadol fel y Pedair Camp ar Hugain a geir nesaf, sef gemau yr oedd disgwyl i bob uchelwr gwerth ei halen fod wedi eu meistroli, yn enwedig yn y bymthegfed ganrif: saethu gyda bwa saeth neu gyda dryll (28), rhedeg (29), neidio (30), bwrw maen a throsol (31, 32) ac ati, ac yna gemau ymladd gydag arfau (36–42), gan gynnwys y cleddau a bwcled (38), lle byddai dau ymladdwr yn ymladd â’i gilydd gan ddal tarian fach gron, y bwcled, yn y llaw chwith a chleddyf byr yn y llaw dde.


Daw’r rhestr i ben gyda gemau bwrdd (43–8), gan gynnwys y gemau traddodiadol gwyddbwyll (46), tawlbwrdd (47), a ffristial chwegwyr (48) sydd hefyd yn cael eu rhestru ymysg y Pedair Camp ar Hugain. Mae’n debyg mai rhyw fath o gêm o symud gwerin ar glawr yw ffristial – ac mae’n siŵr mai fersiwn gyda chwech o werin yw hon. Daeth chwarae disiau (43) a chardiau (45) yn arbennig o boblogaidd tua diwedd yr unfed ganrif ar bymtheg, ac yn wir daeth gamblo yn dipyn o broblem gymdeithasol. Roedd gan John Jones ddiddordeb arbennig mewn gemau cardiau – ac mewn llyfr nodiadau a luniodd pan oedd yn yr ysgol ramadeg, ceir disgrifiadau o sawl gêm gardiau ganddo, a chyfarwyddiadau ar sut i gael y gorau (yn seicolegol, yn aml!) ar eich gwrthwynebydd!

Nodiadau

  • Daw’r ddelwedd o’r gêm gwyddbwyll uchod o wynebddalen y gyfrol J. Barbier, The Famous Game of Chesse-play (London, 1652)

Am ragor o wybodaeth am rai o’r gemau a grybwyllir yma, gweler

  • D. Parry-Jones, Welsh Children’s Games and Pastimes (Denbigh, 1964)

  • Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes (London, 1969)

Ar y Pedair Camp ar Hugain, gweler gwefan ‘Cymru Guto’: http://www.gutorglyn.net/gutoswales/cy/diddordebau.php

  • Ymhellach ar restrau geiriau John Jones, gweler y postiadau blaenorol.


Games and Pastimes in the 17th Century

Among the lists of Welsh words that the scribe John Jones of Gellilyfdy compiled whilst incarcerated in the Fleet Prison in the 1630s is this interesting list of games and pastimes. This is his 49th list of 130, and was written towards the end of 1632. It contains a mixture of children’s and adult’s games and, as was his usual practice, it follows a thematic rather than an alphabetic order.

After opening with a few general terms, he starts with children’s games (9–14). Chwarae chwyrligwgan (12) ‘to spin a top’ and chwarae mig ymguddied (13) ‘to play hide-and-seek’ are familiar enough. The references to chwarae buarth baban outside this list are scarce, but buarth baban is defined in the dictionary (GPC) as some sort of blazing stick that was twirled to entertain a small child. Sounds dangerous! Chwarae dwylo gwynion (10), literally ‘to play white hands’, is a mystery, but the lexicographer Thomas Williems of Trefriw has a good description of Chwarae minddu manddell (11) in his entry under digitis micare in his Latin–Welsh dictionary (Peniarth 228, 1604–7): ‘when one person raises some fingers and the other, facing away from him, tries to guess how many fingers he has raised … in Wales Chwarae Minddu Manddell’. So it’s a game of guessing how many fingers. I failed to find an explanation of chwarae cat i’r wern (144), but many children’s games contain the element cat or cath.


The next six (15–20) are games involving the striking of a ball. Horling pen ffon (15), may be a variant of cnapan, a game of striking a hard wooden ball with a stick. Commenting on the game of hurling in Cornwall, George Owen of Henllys (1552–1613) said: This plaie is vsed in Wales, and the balle is called Knappan … and our ancient cozens the Cornishmen haue the selfe same exercise among them yet obserued, which they call hurlinge. Another possibility is that horling pen ffon is a type of hockey, similar to the traditional hurling played in Ireland.


Coeta (16) is probably a form of coetan or ‘quoits’, a game involving throwing a ring over a peg, and the same is also true of pedoli’r gaseg ‘shoeing the mare’ (20), but using horseshoes instead of the usual rings. Caelys (17) was a bit of a mystery to me until I found a reference in Vernon Bartlett’s volume, The Past of Pastimes, to a game called kayles (from the French quilles), played ‘many centuries ago, with the players throwing a stick at the “kittle pins”, the tallest of which was the “king pin”.’ So that is the origin of the word kingpin! Nawtwll (18) was another game based on getting a ball to a target (OED nineholes ‘Any other games of skill involving nine target holes, spots, etc.’) and sitenna (19) is probably the same type of game, although I failed to find any information about it.


Next we have a series of games involving the hitting of a ball with a bat, hand, or foot: chwarae pêl ddwylo ‘handball’ (21) and chwarae pêl draed ‘football’ (22) – and it’s interesting that the earliest references to this game are to traed ‘feet’, not troed ‘foot’. Then chwarae tenys (23) and chwarae palet (24) are likely to be versions of real tennis or royal tennis, the precursor of lawn tennis. Chwarae’r humog (25) is again a ball-striking game, but this time with a human, a forked bat, as John Jones described it in 1618: ‘Human: a fork to play with a ball’. Bwrw’r gamog (26) may be some kind of hockey, but we cannot be certain.


Games or sports traditionally described as the Pedair Camp ar Hugain ‘The Twenty-four Feats’ come next, games that every nobleman worth his salt was expected to have mastered, especially in fifteenth-century Wales: saethu ‘shooting’ with a bow and arrow or a gun (28), rhedeg ‘running’ (29), neidio ‘jumping’ (30), bwrw maen and bwrw trosol ‘pitching a stone or iron bar’ (31, 32) etc., followed by fighting games with weapons (36–42), including cleddau a bwcled ‘sword and buckler’ (38), where two opponents would fight each other holding a small round shield, the buckler, in the left hand and a short sword in the right hand.


The list ends with board games (43–8), including the traditional games of gwyddbwyll ‘chess’ (46), tawlbwrdd ‘backgammon’ (47), and ffristial chwegwyr (48) which are also listed among the ‘Pedair Camp ar Hugain’. Ffristial is probably some kind of game involving moving pieces or pawns on a board – and this is probably a six-pawn version. Chwarae disiau ‘dice’ (43) and cardiau ‘cards’ (45) became especially popular towards the end of the 16th century, and indeed gambling became quite a problem in society. John Jones was particularly interested in card games – and in a notebook he wrote when he was in grammar school, there are descriptions of several games, and instructions on how (often psychologically!) to get the better of your opponent!

Notes

  • The image of a chess game above comes from the title-page of J. Barbier’s The Famous Game of Chesse-play (London, 1652)

For further information on some of the games mentioned here, see:

  • D. Parry-Jones, Welsh Children’s Games and Pastimes (Denbigh, 1964)

  • Vernon Bartlett, The Past of Pastimes (London, 1969)

For the Twenty Four Feats, see ‘Guto’s Wales’:

http://www.gutorglyn.net/gutoswales/en/diddordebau.php

  • Further on John Jones’s wordlists, see previous posts.

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