LLX > Neil Parker > String Figures > Elementary School

Cup and Saucer

1. Opening A.

2. Pass thumbs away over far thumb strings and near index strings, and under far index strings, and return with far index strings.

3. Lift the lower (original) near thumb string past the upper (new) thumb strings, and off the thumbs. This can be done easily with the aid of the mouth, or one hand at a time, assisting with the fingers of the other hand.

4. Release little finger loops.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure that this was the method used on my elementary school playground. But having recently seen others making it by this method, I suspect it's probably correct.

This figure, held with the index finger loops closest to the ground, is said to resemble a teacup sitting on a saucer. It seems to have originated in the South Pacific, where it represents some kind of boat ([Compton 1919]...Compton calls it "Outrigger Canoe," but admits his informant merely called it a boat).

Another method of making the same figure has been recorded among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia, under the name "Dressing a Skin" ([Jayne 1906], [Teit 1900]):

1. Opening A.

2. Release litte finger loops, but do not separate hands. Allow the former little finger loops to hang down in a long loop.

3. Throw the long hanging (former little finger) loop forward, over the top of the other strings, so that it hangs over the thumb loops and down in front of the figure.

4. Hook the thumbs down over the strings crossing their loops (each thumb over the loose string nearest to it), and allowing the original thumb loops to slip off, separate the hands, keeping the new thumb loops held in the crook of the thumbs.

LLX > Neil Parker > String Figures > Elementary School