Strings on Your Fingers


String Figures, String Tricks, String Catches, Rope and Twine Knots
String and Rope Designs, Knotting, Cat's Cradle Games with String

Websites     Bibliography     Resources     Instructions

Notes    Learning     Recommended Books     Quotations  

Cloud Hands Blog     Fingers and Hands



Research by  Michael P. Garofalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography, Links, Resources
String Figures, Tricks, Catches, Knots, Designs, Cat's Cradle
By Mike Garofalo, M.S.


I originally published this bibliography on the Internet Web in 2003.  In March, 2010, I began checking each link, and adding new links and print titles.  Approximately 40% of the webpages listed in 2003 were no longer online in 2010 and were removed.  The biggest change since 2003 has been the use of UTube by individuals who have placed string figures instructions and demonstrations online and interviews with string figure experts online.  Internet readers are reminded to save a good webpage to their hard drive or server, because it might not exist at a later date. 

 

 

Aboinudi: Der Fadenspieler  Website in German.   


African String Figures.  By Dave Titus, 2004.  Illustrated by Donna S. Moore-LeMaster.  Lawton, Oklahoma, WRDSMTH Productions, 2004.  29 pages.  ISBN: 0974456217.  String Store   (A gift from Dave Titus.)  VSCL 


All About String: Kinds of String, Loop Size, Closing the Loop  WWW String Website. 


The Ancient Art of Hawaiian String Figures
   By Lois and Earl Stokes.  Articles, instructions, gallery, links, bibliography, notes, esoteric aspects.  "
The Art of String Figures is found in many cultures of the world.  In Hawaii it is known as Hei. It is more commonly recognized as Cat’s Cradle. Lois & Earl Stokes are artists of the spirit performing string figures as an esoteric art.  They live the Huna Philosophy and The Aloha Spirit of Hawaii. They view String Figures as a gift from their Ancestors. Many figures have been forgotten but many remain. They want the children of this land to know the beauty of this living treasure. On another level they use String Figures for healing and to promote health and wellness. They show others how to use String Figures as a tool for manifestation, divination, energy work, meditation and journeying."


Annotated String Figure Bibliography   By Richard Ratajczak, 1998.   An excellent contribution.  143K. 


Artic String Figures Project  
Text and illustrations contributed by - Mark A. Sherman, Pasadena, California; Richard Darsie, Davis, California; Ronald C. Read, Oakville, Ontario, Canada; Joseph D'Antoni, Queens, New York, and Will Wirt, Port Angeles, Washington.  Project Editor - Will Wirt, Port Angeles, Washington.  Field Coordinator - David Titus, Lawton, Oklahoma.  


Artists in String: String Figures; Their Regional Distribution and Social Significance.  By Kathleen Haddon.   AMS Press, 1975.   ISBN: 0404141277.  Originally published by Methuen, 
London, 1930.   Some text


Bibliography: 
Annotated String Figure Bibliography by Richard Ratajczak.   Excellent!


Bibliography:  String Figure Bibliography by Tom Storer.    The Definitive Work!!!!  


Bibliography:  String Figure Bibliography by Tom Storer (Abridged).   Updated in 2008.  The Best on the Net!!!


Bibliography:  Strings on Your Fingers by Mike Garofalo  


Books on String Figures to Buy for Children or Adults for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas, or Just for Fun


Brian Cox - The Incredible String Man. 


Bulletin of the International String Figure Association, 1994-
Pasadena, California
Edited by - Mark A. Sherman, Pasadena, California
Associate Editors - Joseph D'Antoni, Queens, New York; Tetsuo Sato, Kumamoto, Japan; Will Wirt, Port Angeles, Washington
Editorial Board - Hiroshi Noguchi, Tokyo, Japan; Philip Noble, Prestwick, Scotland.
Volume 1, 1994   VSCL 
Volume 2, 1995   VSCL
Volume 3, 1996   VSCL 
Volume 4, 1997   VSCL 
Volume 5, 1998   String Figures from China, Tibet and Nepal   VSCL 
Volume 6, 1999   VSCL 
Volume 7, 2000   VSCL 
Volume 8, 2001   VSCL 
Table of Contents - Volume 9, 2002
Table of Contents - Volume 10, 2003
Table of Contents - Volume 11, 2004
Table of Contents - Volume 12, 2005
Table of Contents - Volume 13, 2006
Table of Contents - Volume 14, 2007
Table of Contents - Volume 15, 2008


Camilla Gryski's Cat's Cradle: A Book of String Games.  By Camilla Gryski.  Kids Can Press, 1995.  32 pages.  ISBN: 1553370902.  For children ages 4-8. 


Camilla Gryski's Favorite String Games.  By Camilla Gryski.  Kids Can Press, 1995.  48 pages.  ISBN: 1550742612.  For children ages 4-8. 


 

                                   




Cat's Cradle; A Book of String Figures  By Anne Akers Johnson.   Palo Alto, California, Klutz Press, 1993.    36 pages.  ISBN:
B002AWFRQS.  All figures from C. F. Jayne.  Includes a two person Cat's Cradle.  Nylon string included.  VSCL. 


Cat's Cradle, Owl's Eyes: A Book of String Games   By Camilla Gryski.  Illustrated by Tom Sankey.   New York, William Morrow and Company, 1983.  78 pages.   ISBN: 0688039413.    Excellent instructions for doing the 11 part Cat's cradle with a partner.   Clear instructions and illustrations for making dozens of string figures - mostly from C. F. Jayne.  VSCL. 


Class for Elementary and Middle School Students in Making String Figures     By Michael P. Garofalo        


Cloud Hands: Mind/Body Movement Arts Blog 


The Cultural Significance of Navajo String Games    By Mark Sherman.  A fascinating study of Navaho culture, cosmology, and artistic concepts.  


Demonstrations and Instructions for Making String Figures 


Digital String Games  

 

 

An Apache Door
Pi cho wai nai

 


Diné String Games    Mark Sherman  


Diabolo String Figures 


Directory of String Figure Performers    WWW String Website 


Fantastic String Figures    Video


Fascinating String Figures   Edited by the International String Figure Association.    Dover Publications, 1996, 1999.   78 pages.   ISBN: 0486404005.   23 unique and many new string figures. 


Les Ficelles Enchantees 


Finger Strings: A Book of Cat's Cradles and String Figures.  By Michael Taylor.  Stories and rhymes by Milly Reynolds and Jaimen McMillan.  Edinburg, England, Floris Books, Spi Edition, 2008.  Sources, index, 143 pages.  ISBN: 0863156657.  For children ages 9-12.   Excellent detailed and colored illustrations.  VSCL. 


Fun With String: A Collection of String Games, Useful Braiding and Weaving, Knot Work and Magic with String and Rope.  By Joseph Leeming.  Illustrated by Charles E. Pont.  New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 1974.  An unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published in 1940 by J. B. Lippincott Company.  Bibliography, 161 pages.   ISBN: 0486230635.  VSCL. 


Fun with String Figures   By Walter William Rouse Ball.   New York, Dover Publications, 1971, 1999.   80 pages.   ISBN: 0486228096.  VSCL. 


Garofalo, Michael M.S., Red Bluff, California, String Figures Performer. 
Mike does string figures performances, workshops, and demonstrations of string figures and string games in the North Sacramento Valley.  He is available for string figures performances at events, fairs, in classrooms, in libraries, in bookstores, at clubs, etc.  Phone: 530-200-3546.  Mike is a certified substitute teacher, in grades K-12, in the State of California. 


The Genesis and Geometry of the Labyrinth: Architecture, Hidden Language, Myths and Rituals.  By Patrick Conty and Arianne Conty.  Rochester, Vermont.  Inner Traditions International, 2002.  Index, 296 pages.  ISBN: 0892819227.  This book includes much on knot theory, mazes, and the theories and myths about labyrinths.  VSCL. 


Anne Glover Story String Productions  


Good Books on String Figures to Buy for Children or Adults for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas, or Just for Fun


Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California.   Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. 


Harrison School: String Figures   By Belinda Holbrook.  String figure making with 3rd graders.   


How to Make String Figures - Instructions and Demonstrations


Implication of String Figures for American Indian Mathematics Education.  By Charles G. Moore. 


Instructions for Making String Figures


International String Figure Association   The ISF Association Official Website.  For more information write: P.O. Box 5134, Pasadena, California, 91117 USA.  Phone/FAX: (626) 305-9055.  E-mail: webweavers@isfa.org.  Excellent list of links.  There are English, French, German, and Spanish versions of this fine website.   List of publications available.  ISFA Press was founded in 1993 by Mark A. Sherman.  Outstanding collection of on-line bibliographies.  Outstanding annual publications by the ISFA.  I own many of their Annual ISFA Bulletins and consider them to be outstanding reference sources.  If you are serious about learning string figures, then membership in the ISFA is a necessity.   Outstanding Resource!


Jacob's Ladder - Origin and Distribution    By Martin Probert.    


Jeux de Ficelle   Numerous photographs of string figures.  Bibliography of French language titles.   (No longer online)


"Jeux du Monde, Leur Histoire, Comment y Jouer, Comment les Construire." 
F. V. Grunfled.  Lied, Genčve 1979.  


"Juegos con una Cuerta: La Cuerda Fascinadora Figura."   By Anne Akers Johnson.  Klutz, 1993.  


Kid's Guide to Easy String Figures 


"The Klutz Book of Knots: A Step by Step Manual.  By John Cassidy.  Palo Alto, California, Klutz Press, 1985.  23 pages.  ISBN: 0932592104.  VSCL. 

 

                                     

 

The Knot Book   By Geoffrey Budworth.  New York, Sterling Publishing Company, 1985.  Index, glossary, 160 pages.  ISBN: 0806979445.    VSCL. 


Knots on the Web    A full-featured site!  Includes sections on knot tying, theory, art, software, books and image gallery.  Presented by Peter Suber.  Comprehensive Internet Links on the subject!!!  Bibliography. 


Knot Theory - From Mathworld 


Kwakiutl String Figures  By Julia Averkieva and Mark A. Sherman.   Vancouver/New York, University of British Columbia Press, American Museum of Natural History, 1992..  Appendices, bibliography, index, xxxi, 199 pages.  ISBN: 0774804327.  "102 string figures and 10 string tricks collected among the Kwakiutl Indians. Represent the most comprehensive Native American string collection ever assembled from a single tribe. Characterizes the social conditions that prompted string figure making among the Kwakiutl.  Noted step-by-step instructions for each figure and transcribed traditional accompanying chants. Hard cover book."  String Figures Store.  VSCL. 


Labyrinths:  Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes
   By Michael P. Garofalo. 


Links to String Figure Websites    By Myriam Namolaru.  48K.  Some detailed indexing available.   (No Longer Online) 


Links to String Figure Websites    By Michael P. Garofalo.  


Links to String Figure Websites from DMOZ    


A Loop of String.  String Stories and String Stunts.  Traditional and Original String Figures and Stories Collected and Created by Ruth Stotter.  By Ruth Stotter.  With illustrations by Kevin Coffey.  Regent Press, 2009.  104 pages.  The history of string figures shows them to be an important accompaniment to stories and chants in many cultures, especially in Pacific Rim countries.  A Loop of String carries on this tradition, providing stories that accompany directions for making string figures.  In addition, Stotter includes string stunts and tricks that have been passed on in the oral tradition for hundreds of years.  This how-to book for all ages is a valuable contribution to the folk art of making string figures and will be cherished by teachers, librarians, storytellers, summer camp counselors, and, of course, children.  It also contains many original string stories."  String Store  ISBN: 1587901706. 


"Lost: A Story in String"  By Paul Fleischman.  Illustrated by C. B. Mordan.  Henry Holt and Company.  ISBN: 0805055835.  


Magazines Ficelles


Many Stars and More String Games   By Camilla Gryski.  Illustrated by Tom Sankey.   New York, William Morrow and Company, 1985.  80 pages.   ISBN: 0688057926.    Excellent instructions for doing a 8 part solo Cat's cradle.  Clear instructions and illustrations for making dozens of string figures - mostly from C. F. Jayne.  VSCL. 


"Maori String Figures"  By Johannes C. Anderson.  1927.  ISBN: 0404144020.  


The Mathematics and Origin of String Figures   Martin Probert.   "String Figures and Knot Theory, the Origin of String Figures, and Invented String Figures."  Excellent information.  


Maude, Honor C. (1908-2001)  For over 20 years she visited islands all over the Pacific and personally collected over a thousand string figures. 


Me Human, You Alien: How to Talk to an Extraterrestrial       Jonathan Vos Post


Murphy's String Figures: Teaching Math with String Figures.  By James R. Murphy.   Lexington, Kentucky, CreateSpace, 2008.  254 pages.  ISBN: 1438246781.  VSCL. 


Museums and Other Institutions with String Figures Artifacts.   By Martin Probert.  


Myriam's Instructional Videos   Many string figures are demonstrated. 

 

 

mpgstring.jpg (51465 bytes)

East Los Angeles Library, California, in 1978
Mike Garofalo is sharing and teaching string figures with children.
Each child gets a loop of string to play with.
I've done this kind of craft/art/play activity in libraries and elsewhere from 1971-2007.

 

 

Native Alaskan String Figures.  By David Titus with David Nicolai.  Lawston, Oklahoma, WRDSSMTH Productions, 2007.  "Book three of the “World Culture Series.” Approximately sixteen figures from the Native people of Siberia, Alaska, and Canada including: Fishing Spear, Scissors Series, Knots, Skin House, and Heart. Many show motion like Shooting Arrow, Porcupine and Two Birds Flying. Clear directions, step-by-step illustrations, and source notes for each figure."  String Figures Store


Native American Cordage    By Tara Prindle.   A variety of weaving and string arts using different kinds of materials.   Links, references, and information.   


Native American String Figures  By Dave Titus.  Illustration by Donna S. Moore-LeMaster.  Lawton, Oklahoma, WRDSMITH Productions, 2003.  27 pages.  ISBN: 0974456225.  (A gift from Dave Titus.)  VSCL


Navajo String Figures from Grandma Margaret    Video  


Navajo String Figures:  The Long Walk from Grandma Margaret    Video


Now You See It... String Games and Stories, Book 2  By Michael Taylor.  Hawthorne Press, 2002.  128 pages.   ISBN: 1903458218.


One Old Taoist Druid's Final Journey: The Green Wizard's Notebooks


Open Directory: Arts/Crafts/String Figures     Links.   


Opening Moves and Endings for String Figures


The Origin of String Figures.   By Martin Probert.  


Pathways in the Green Valley Blog  


Performers: Directory of String Figure Performers    WWW String Website


A Piece of String is a Wonderful Thing   By Judy Hindley.  Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain.  Cambridge, Massachusetts, Candlewick Press, 1993.  24 pages.  ISBN: 1564021475.    A picture book about the history and uses of string and rope.  VSCL. 


Pull the Other One! -  String Games and Stories   By Michael Taylor.  Hawthorne Press, 2001.  128 pages.  ISBN: 1869890493.


Recommended Books on String Figures to Buy for Children or Adults for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas, or Just for Fun


Ripening Peaches: Studies in Taoism


The Shaman's Game of String.  By Heinani.  Hawaiian string figures meditation.  


Snaring Time and Space   By Louise Stokes.  Includes a long poem. 


"South American String Figures"  By Stig Ryden.  Offprint from Sartryck Ur Meddelanden Fran Geografiska ForeningenI Goteborg VI, 1934.  42 pages.  


String Figure Bibliography  By Tom Storer.  Published by the International String Figure Association, 1996.   110 pages.  ISBN: 0965146715.   "First published in 1985, this fully revised and expanded edition of Storer's comprehensive survey of the string figure literature cites over 1300 articles, books, and monographs that mention or describe string figures. Entries are coded to indicate whether the work includes string figure illustrations and/or construction methods. A must for all string figure enthusiasts!"  VSCL. 


String Figure Bibliography   Strings On Your Fingers: Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotations.  By Michael P. Garofalo. 


String Figure - From Mathworld  


String Figure Magazine   Published by The International String Figure Association.    Edited by Mark A. Sherman.   1996-.  ISSN:  1087-1527.    Table of Contents information at ISFA Website.   VSCL: 3/2001, 6/2001, 9/2001. 


String Figure Notation   A Shorthand Notation for Recording String Figures.


String Figure Store    Here you can purchase and view: Books, Videos, Strings, Collectibles, Audio Tapes and many more string figure as well as storytelling related items and information.  If you are an educator or parent you can provide your child or children with an interesting way to learn about different cultures and countries. 


String Figure - Wikipedia Article 


String Figures
   Short bibliography. 


String Figures.  By A. Johnson Abraham.  Algonac, Michigan, Reference Publications, Inc, 1988.  Index, bibliography,154 pages.   "String Figures describes the principal examples of funiculology (the art of making string figures) found throughout the world. Illustrated by 61 line drawings, it also provides instructions for making them, and covers the historic, aesthetic, technical, and psychic dimensions. The origin and world distribution of string figures are also discussed, as are the mythology, religious beliefs, taboos, and legends associated with them. Dr. Abraham’s chapter on the lore of string figures includes a consideration of prediction, divination, chants, and the sexual dimension, as well as a consideration of string figures as a consideration of sting figures as a surviving archaic language. To date, this is the most important work on the science of funiculology to have been published."  String Store   VSCL. 


"String Figures"    By Myriam Namolaru.   Examples, bibliography, lots of interesting links, notes, art.  Primarily in French.  String stories and notes.   The graphic layout of this website is a bit unusual; nevertheless, lots of unique links at this website.  The extensive effort to create detailed indexes to key reference books, the web links, and bibliography at this website are a valuable contribution.  No longer online. 


"String Figures   Ed Sterchi is quite a string figure buff and is in great demand with area schools and libraries, in Illinois, for his Native American string stories.  No longer online. 


String Figures    Brian Cox - The Incredible String Man.  Photo


"
String Figures"   Why I Collect String Figures, and Why You Should Too.   By Britt Scharringhausen.  Detailed instructions for six figures from Fun With String Figures by W. W. Rouse Ball: Batoka Gorge, Fish Spear, Moth, Porker, Pillars of the Sun, and Eclipse.  No longer online. 

 

String Figures and How to Make Them; A Study of Cat's Cradle in Many Lands.  By Caroline Furness Jayne (1873-1909).  With an ethnological introduction by Alfred C. Haddon.  New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 1962.  The Dover edition, first published in 1962, is an unabridged republication of the work first published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1906 under the former title:  "String Figures."   Illustrations, photographs, bibliography, index, 407 pages.  ISBN: 48620152X.  LCCN: 62-51880.   In print in 2000 for $8.00 - an outstanding value.  Table of Contents and list of figures.  "This book may be regarded as an introduction to the study of String Figures - games which are widespread among primitive peoples, and played by weaving on the hands a single loop of string in order to produce intricate patterns supposed to represent certain familiar objects." (p. v)  This is the Uhr text for all 20th century studies of string figures!!   Many of the books listed elsewhere repeat some of the string figures found in C. F. Jayne's 1906 book.  VSCL. 

Get this book First!!

 

 

            

Dover 1962 Reprint of the 1906 Classic

 

 

Caroline Furness Jayne 1873 - 1909
Stained glass by Henry Holiday Studio
First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                               

 

 


String Figures and Knot Theory: Mathematics of the Unknot Under Tension.   By Martin Probert.  


String Figures and Shamanism     By Lois Stokes.        


String Figures Class, Corning, California     By Michael P. Garofalo.  Mike does string figures performances, workshops, and demonstrations of string figures and string games in the North Sacramento Valley.  He is available for string figures performances at events, in classrooms, in libraries, in bookstores, at clubs, etc.  Phone: 530-200-3546.  Mike is a certified substitute teacher, in grades K-12, in the State of California. 


String Figures: Les Ficelles Enchantees 


String Figures from Around the World   By Sorena DeWitt.  Illustrated by Robin Michel.  Torrance, California, Heian International Publishing Company, 1992.  28 pages.  Volume 1., 1992.  ISBN:  0893468274.   Seven elementary string figures: Fish Spear, Outrigger Canoe - top Hat, Moth, Winking Eye, Jacob's Ladder, Japanese Koto, and Yam Thief.  Volume 2., 1993, ISBN:  0893468274.  VSCL. 


"String Figures from the Gilbert Islands"   By Honor Maude.   Wellington, New Zealand, The Polynesian Society, 1958.  


String Figures - Google Links


String Figures: Internet Links.    Extensive bibliography and Internet WWW links.


String Figures Mail List ISFA Discussion Group     Inclues archives.      


String Figures Mail List Yahoo Discussion Group     Inclues archives.      


String Figures - Open Directory - Links

 

 

                  

 

                   

 

                                                   

 

 

String Figures - Mathematics and the Liberal Arts


String Figures, Mathematics, Origin    By Martin Probert.   A variety of informative essays and conjectures.   


String Figures for Learning Hands   
 


"String Figures of Papua New Guinea"   By Philip Noble.  Boroko, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1979.


"String Figures of the Tuamotus"   By Kenneth Emory and Honor Maude.  Canberra, Homa Press, 1979.


String Figures: Recommended Books for Parents and Grandparents to Purchase as Gifts


String Figures Store   Books, videotapes, storytelling, supplies, art.   Dave Titus, Lawton, Oklahoma. 


"String Games"  By Anne Akers Johnson.     


"String Games"  By Arvind Gupta.  National Book Trust, 2002.  50 pages.  ISBN: 8123738595.  


String Games.   By Richard Darsie.  New York, Sterling Pub. Co., 2005.  Sources, index, 96 pages.  ISBN: 1402727879.  VSCL.  


"String Games for Beginners."  By Kathleen Haddon.   Cambridge, Massachusetts, H. Heffer & Sons.  


String Games from Around the World   By Anne Akers Johnson.   Palo Alto, California, Klutz Press, 1995.  70 pages.  ISBN: 1570540403.  Includes colored string.  Seven elementary string figures:  Siberian Hut, Carrying Wood, Worm, Flying Bird, Candle Thief, Palm Tree and Mosquito.  Interesting layout, nice presentations of seven cultural groups, and attractive color photographs of children from around the world doing the string figures.  A special hardcover spiral bound book.   


String Games: More Than Just Child's Play    By Joyce Cohen.   Review of string figure websites in 2000.  


Strings on Your Fingers    By Michael P. Garofalo.   Links, bibliography, resources, quotes and notes.  Mike is a string figures researcher and performer from Red Bluff, California.  


"Strings on You Fingers: How to Make String Figures."   By Elizabeth Helfman and Harry Helfman.  New York, William Morrow, 1965.  


String Store   Dave Titus, Lawton, Oklahoma. 


String Stories: A Creative, Hands-on Approach for Engaging Children in Literature.  By Belinda Holbrook.  Worthington, Ohio, Linworth Publishing Inc., 2002.  Bibliography, index, 141 pages.  ISBN: 1586830635.  Best Buy at the String Store.  VSCL. 


String Vibrations


Super String Games
By Camilla Gryski.  Illustrated by Tom Sankey.  New York, William Morrow and Company, Morrow Junior Books, 1987.   80 pages.   ISBN:   068807684X.  Many interesting new string figures in this fine book.  Review.  VSCL. 


The Survival, The Origin and Mathematics of String Figures.   Martin Probert.  


Teaching Hawaiian String Figures    Includes a very nice photography Lois and Earl Stokes.     


Tere Te Vaka  or Correr Barco String Figure from the Easter Islands.  Instructions plus photographs.  "String figures in general are called Kai Kai in the language of Rapa Nui.  Playing with the string, making figures, string games, all called Kai Kai."  Presented by A.J.Oxton.  No longer online. 


21st Century String Figures  

 

 

      

Kwiss School, Hacienda Heights, California, 1985
Sharing with a Kindergarten Class
Mike Garofalo storytelling and sharing string figures.
Each child gets a loop of string to play with. 

 


Dave Titus
  Mr. Titus is a Christian missionary, storyteller, and string artist.  You can purchase two videotapes featuring Dave: String Magic from Around the World, and String Fun with the Parables.  He has also written two books:  Native American String Figures, and African String Figures.  


The Torres Straights String Figures in the British Museum, A.C. Haddon Collection
.  By Martin Probert.  


Towards a Study of String Figures and Knowledge Presentation    H. T. Goranson, 22K.   


VSCL =  Valley Spirit Center Library Collection, Red Bluff, California. 


The World's Best String Games   By Joanmarie Kalter.   New York, Sterling Publishing Co., 1989.    Index, 128 pages.  ISBN: 0806969210.    All figures from C. F. Jayne.  Includes a two person Cat's Cradle.  VSCL. 


WWW Collection of Favorite String Figures    Instructions, links, books, notes, examples. By Eric Lee.  Important Resource!


World Wide Webs: String Figures from Around the World    Excellent site!!  Presented by Richard Darsie.  Instructions for elementary, intermediate and advanced string figures.  Bibliography.  Notes on families of string figures.  Detailed written instructions and an illustration of the final form of each figure are given.   This has been a very influential website.   No longer online. 


Yahoo Groups: String Figures

 

 

 

Diamond Bar Library, City of Diamond Bar, California, in 1995  
Summer Reading Program activity at the library
Mike Garofalo storytelling and sharing string figures.
Each child gets a loop of string to play with.
Some nice prizes, some music, some library book promotion. 

 

 


Yahoo Hobbies - String Figures - Links


Great Books on String Figures to Buy for Children or Adults for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas, or Just for Fun

 

Return to the Main Index for this Webpage

 

 

                Making the Oceanic Cradle Opening
                                 Diabolo String Figures

 

 

 

 

 

Quotations
String Figures, Tricks, Catches, Knots, Designs, Cat's Cradle Games

 

 

"Strings become an obsession with some people .. it's like a moving meditation."
Gelvin Stevenson

 

 "It's just a miracle that out of a tangle of string something will pop into view."
-   Joseph D'Antoni

 


"There came a day when I put the books aside and stepped out into the energy of this sacred Island of Kauai. I would weave patterns with the string as I sat by the ocean or by a mountain stream. I played string games with the children and with the adults who took great delight in remembering what was once forgotten. That is when the magic started to happen and I knew without a doubt that the gift I was given was significant. String figures were not just a child's game but the tool of a shaman. A tool for influencing relationships within the self, with others and with the environment. A tool for restoring harmony. They had been placed in the hands of the children so they would not be forgotten. The spirit of the string figures had come to me so that I could retell a story; perhaps a story about children and shamans in a playful conspiracy."
-  Lois Stokes, String Figures and Shamanism  

 


"String Figures are found in almost all of the ancient cultures of the world. Most people think of string figures as "just a child's game" In it's simple form it is just that - a game. But on other levels one discovers what has been hidden from view. It is my speculation that the game of string figures was the game of the shaman. A game where small changes were made in the pattern of string. Small changes that brought about outward manifestations of new learning, healing and creation. This lens will help you discover The Shamans Game of String Figures and will give you the secrets on how to use this game for Teaching, Healing and Creating."
-  Heinani, The Shaman's Game of String

 


"As Dr. Haddon has pointed out, the familiar game of cat's-cradle probably had its origin in Asia whence it was introduced into Europe; it has also spread to some extent among the Asiatic islands.   It is well known in China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Borneo; and it may be known in Java, Celebes, and Australia.  It is apparently unknown in Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and to the Amerinds.  In Europe it is recorded from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, France and England.   We have not be able to find any record of the time or manner of its introduction into England, but this must have happened within comparatively recent years as there are no references to it in the older literature.  Moreover, no satisfactory explanation of the name "cat's-cradle" has ever been given; its other name "cratch-cradle," may refer to the two important stages of the game: the "manger" (a cratch) and the "cradle."  In Southern China cat's cradle is known as Kang sok = Well rope; in Swatow the name means "Sawing wood."  In Korea it is called Ssi-teu-ki = Woof-taking; and in Japan, Aya ito tori = Woof pattern String-taking."
-   Caroline Furness Jayne, String Figures and How to Make Them, 1906, p. 324-.

 

 

4th and 5th Grade Students
Olive View Elementary School, Corning, California, 2003
GATE Class on String Figures by Mike Garofalo 

 

5th and 6th Grade Students
Maywood Middle School, Corning, California, 2005
GATE Class on String Figures by Mike Garofalo 

 

 

"Even though you tie a hundred knots-- 
the string remains one." 
-   Rumi

 

A piece of string
Tied up end to end
In the shape of a ring;
No beginning, no end,
A Magical Thing. 
-  Mike Garofalo 

 

"One of the rules I have incorporated in my teaching is that when they learn a new figure it is our tradition to teach that same figure to at least 5 other people.  It reinforces their learning as well as spreads the new figure quickly throughout the school.  My class also organizes lessons to teach other classes about string figures."
-   Lee Gardner, School Teacher's Tips  

 


"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there."
-   Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11, by Lao Tzu
    Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, 1989

 


"A long time ago, people made lists of the names of string figures, or brought back drawings of the finished patterns.  Some even kept the string pattern itself, fastened to a piece of paper.  But once a string figure is finished, it is almost impossible to tell just how it was made.  We can learn and teach each other string figures today because, in 1898, two anthropologists, Dr. A.C. Haddon and Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, invented a special language to describe the way string figures are made.  Haddon and Rivers developed their special language to record all the steps it took to make the string figures they learned in the Torres Straights.  Then, other anthropologists used this same language, or a simpler version of it, when they wanted to remember the string figures they saw in their travels." 
-   Camilla Gryski, Super String Games, p. 7.

 

Allan Watts once told an audience that an old Irish fisherman said, "A net is holes tied together with string."

 

“Spider Woman taught the allegorical string figures to the Navajo to help them keep their thinking in order and thus also keep their lives in order.”  
-    Trudy Griffin-Pierce, Navaho Sandpaintings
    
The Cultural Significance of Navajo String Games by Mark Sherman

 

"String figures is a hobby familiar to every school child with a loop of string.  It is also an art form common to every culture in the world, from the Inuit to South Sea Islanders to American Indian tribes, from Europe to Asia to Africa to South America." 
-   Megan Elizabeth Clarke, "String Figures As Both Art and Culture." 
    Smithsonian, Vol. 31, no. 4 (July, 2000)

 

 

   
                           Digital String Games by John Fairclough

 

 

"Human beings are
soft and supple when alive,
stiff and straight when dead.
The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
soft and fragile when alive
dry and withered when dead.
Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life."
-  Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Section 41 (76)
   Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990

 

"Michael P. Garofalo's comprehensive page of string links.  The Best on the Web!"
String Figures Association, March 2005

 


"Ancient cultures from around the world have looked to nature; the stars, clouds, rocks, trees and animals for insight and inspiration. Many cultures have developed casting tools using shells, seeds, stones, sticks or bones. Today most people recognize systems such as the Egyptian Tarot, Chinese I Ching and the Scandinavian Runes.  In the Hawaiian language Kaula means rope, cord, string. A similar word Kaula Kane spoken with a different intonation means prophet, seer and Kaula Wahine means prophetess or priestess. Whether used for divination or for the development of creativity or imagination, the Kaula is a tool for accessing inner knowledge and Divine Inspiration.  This lens will ask you to Suspend Disbelief and explore the possibilities that the string can be used by Seers to explore the answers hidden within."
-  Heinani, Divination with String 

 


"The string passes to others in the family, and in rapid succession we see a Navajo rug, a bolt of lightning, two coyotes racing away from each other, a bat, and a worm that crawls over and under two parallel strings. “Where did you learn those designs?” we ask. The children confer with their father for a while, then one answers, “I don’t know. I guess it’s all from Spider Woman. They say if you fall into Spider Woman’s den she won’t let you out unless you can do all these. And then if you do these in the summer you won’t get out at all anyway.” 
“Why is that?” 
“Well, we’re only supposed to do it in the winter when the spiders are hibernating, because it’s really their kind of custom to do things with string.” During this conversation, the mother has gone back to weaving momentarily, and the other children are still doing string figures. 
“The Spider Woman taught us all these designs as a way of helping us think. You learn to think when you make these. And she taught us about weaving, too,” a teen-age daughter puts in. 
“If you can think well,” the first boy adds, “you won’t get into trouble or get lost. Anyway, that’s what our father says.” 
Barre Toelken asks: “But Spider Woman didn’t teach you these things, right? Where did you learn them?” 
“Well, we probably picked them up from each other and from our father, but they were already around, you know. All the people know about them. Spider Woman taught us.” 
The father (Yellowman) speaks now for the first time and, taking the string, makes a tight design. “Do you know what that is?” he asks us. We do not. He shows his children and they all respond: “S'Tso” (literally, “Big Star,” Venus). He nods with satisfaction and makes another figure; he holds it up to us, and we shake our heads. He holds it up to the children, and they respond, “Dily'H.” Since I have never heard the term I ask one of the children to translate it: everyone looks blank. “That’s the only word there is for it.” Suddenly, in an attempt to explain, Yellowman motions us all outside. There, shivering in the night wind, we watch him carefully hold the string figure above his head and point beyond it with pursed lips to the Pleiades. 
Back inside, the father helps cover our embarrassment at not knowing our astronomy by making string figure caricatures of those present: a face with vague glasses to represent Brunvand, another with a loop hanging down for Foster’s beard, another with a piece of string trailing down to depict the power cord on Toelken’s tape recorder. 
Finally, the father puts the string down and says seriously, “These are all matters we need to know. It’s too easy to become sick, because there are always things happening to confuse our minds. We need to have ways of thinking, of keeping things stable, healthy, beautiful.  We try for a long life, but lots of things can happen to us. So we keep our thinking in order by these figures and we keep our lives in order with the stories. We have to relate our lives to the stars and the sun, the animals, and to all of nature or else we will go crazy, or get sick.”
-  Recorded by Barre Toelken, folklorist, The Cultural Significance of Navaho String Games 

 


"Creating webs, spiders spin
mandalas of sacred art;
Opening portals to the unseen world,
Ancient silken strings embrace magic."
-   Lois Stokes, Web of Life 

 


" ... the World's Most Widespread Game"
James Hornell, Discovery, 1928

 

 

                             

 


"Explorers and anthropologists around the end of the 19th century discovered the game of string figure making in many parts of the world: the Arctic, North and South America, the Pacific islands, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South East Asia. The occurrence of string figure making among such widely separated peoples led several writers to suggest an ancient origin. But the earliest evidence of string figure making that has come to light is in a Greek document of the 4th century AD.  We content ourselves in Part I with a tentative suggestion as to the most remote date at which string figure making might reasonably have been practised. The requirements are that the peoples living at such a time are known to have handled some sort of string-like material, were engaged in some sort of sophisticated manipulation of it, and made loops of it.  The practice of making a loop out of string-like material can be dated to the Upper Palaeolithic (late Old Stone Age, 40-10,000 BC) for the beads of necklaces (if not the loop itself) have survived in graves of the period.  Hunter-gatherers, moving from place to place, needed to travel light and, besides the clothes they wore and such ornamentation as bracelet and necklace, carried nothing but hunting tools. When they came to a resting place, having none of the artefacts of settled farming peoples with which to busy themselves and otherwise spend their time, the adults may have used a necklace (or a loop of string or sinew) to occupy their hands or to amuse a child.  There is evidence that from the Upper Palaeolithic onwards an active manipulation of string-like materials was taking place. Hair-nets have been found in burials of the time suggesting that fishing nets, of which the earliest found date from the Mesolithic, may also have originated in the Upper Palaeolithic. The strings at the intersections of the meshes were either twisted or knotted together: when knotted, the knot was of the simple variety.  The earliest known description of a string figure occurs in a collection of excerpts from earlier writers by the Greek medical writer Oribasius (c.320-400 AD). A description of what we now call a string figure appears to be taken from the works of the writer Heraklas. The text explains that the figure is useful as a binding to put around and straighten a fractured chin."
-  Martin Probert, The Origin of String Figures

 


"Most probably, some tools from a million years ago used knot technology to affix to sticks, but this is merely induced. But with modern humans, 35,000 years ago, we have representational art, which gives clear of evidence for knots and weaving. Some of the oldest art clearly shows that weaving and knotting were part of everyday life. One theory of the evolution of language holds that it co-evolved with basic cognitive skills unique to humans: self-awareness and "explanation." A natural assumption is that such cognitive developments occurred as a result of manual manipulation in toolmaking, including weaving and knotting regardless of the period.
  Knots and weaves would have been used for clothing, nets, containers, shelters, affixing tools and assembling boats. Knots would necessarily be learned from one person to another. It doesn't take much imagination to imagine scenarios where mnemonics associated with learning were tied (literally) to representational schemes and associated games. 
Repetitive hand motions have been physically linked to higher level reasoning and memory, and since knotted strings produce a physical artifact, the association of cognitive deep structure with string manipulation seems logical. Our proposed study will assume such a linkage without absolute proof. We will then explore what advantages knotting might afford as interface to new artificial spaces, what specific techniques and manipulations might be tied to certain associations, and what the implications for "evolving" new languages may be."
-   H. T. Goranson, Toward a Study of String Figures and Knowledge Representation

 


"In terms of expense one of the least expensive toys is that required to make string figures. Any kind of string can be used but there is an advantage to purchasing certain types. One needs a length of string about six feet long. One can simply tie the ends together but the knot can prove to be a nuisance; therefore, a synthetic material, such as nylon, with a slight roughness is preferable. One can then heat a soldering gun to melt the ends of the string and the two ends are joined to make a continuous loop."
String Figures

 


"The weaving of patterns from a simple loop of string is an ancient art. Stories of Grandmother spider spinning net-like webs and studies of alignments, navigational star charts and grids form our understanding of the interrelationship between myth, art, science and mathematics.  Early man looked to nature in developing his knowledge of the world about him. The natural world is the canvas for straight and curved lines. The navigators were well aware of the straight line of the horizon. The makers of containers were observers of the curved lines of the moon. The human body also reflects the proportions used in measurement. The length of the string we use in making string figures can be measured from fingertip of one outstretched hand to the fingertips of the other and when joined together they form the string loop. In addition to string used as a tool for measurement, knotted cords were used as mnemonic devices and for tallying. Sequences of knots held the memories of people while strengthening connections to their ancestors. Knotted cords were held in prayer. Through the making of string figures we are weaving a tapestry that connects the strands of art and mathematics. We work with both hemispheres of the brain as the symmetry of left and right hands weave patterns in the string. Art has a right brain function working in the realms of images, form and space. Mathematics has a left-brain function that deals with number, time and sequence. Integrated they provide a harmony of motion in time and space."
-   Louise Stokes, Snaring Time and Space

 


"String figures are designs formed from nothing more than a loop of string. Most of the time, people use their fingers to weave string figures, but sometimes, they also use their toes, knees, elbows, and mouth. String figures were once known to nearly all native inhabitants of East Asia, Australia, Africa, the Arctic, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. Their function varied from place to place. In some locations, string figures provided a much needed artistic outlet - competitions were held to see who could make the most interesting design. In other locations, string figures were used by tribal storytellers to illustrate their tales. Elsewhere, string figures served as good luck charms to help ensure a bountiful harvest or a successful hunt. The number of possible designs is virtually limitless. Instructions for making over two thousand traditional patterns have been published since 1888, when anthropologist Franz Boas first described how to make an Eskimo string figure. In 1906, Caroline Furness Jayne writes : "In the finished patterns we find, among all races, representations of men and women, parts of the body, articles of dress, of commerce, and of warfare; and of stars, and natural phenomena - such as storms, darkness, and lightning."
-   Insiders: String Figures for Learning Hands

 

 

 

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Recommended Books
String Figures, Tricks, String Catches, Knots, Designs, Cat's Cradle Games
Good Books for Parents to Buy for Their Children and for Grandparents to Buy for Their Grandchildren

 

 

                                        

 

Finger Strings: A Book of Cat's Cradles and String Figures  By Michael Taylor.  Stories and rhymes by Milly Reynolds and Jaimen McMillan.  Edinburg, England, Floris Books, Spi Edition, 2008.  Sources, index, 143 pages.  ISBN: 0863156657.  For children ages 9-12.   Excellent detailed and colored illustrations.  VSCL. 


String Figures and How to Make Them; A Study of Cat's Cradle in Many Lands   By Caroline Furness Jayne (1873-1909).  With an ethnological introduction by Alfred C. Haddon.  New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 1962.  The Dover edition, first published in 1962, is an unabridged republication of the work first published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1906 under the former title: String Figures.   Illustrations, photographs, bibliography, index, 407 pages.  SBN: 048620152X.  LCCN: 62-51880.   In print in 2000 for $8.00 - an outstanding value.  Table of Contents and list of figures.  "This book may be regarded as an introduction to the study of String Figures - games which are widespread among primitive peoples, and played by weaving on the hands a single loop of string in order to produce intricate patterns supposed to represent certain familiar objects." (p. v)  This is the Uhr text for all 20th century studies of string figures!!  


Super String Games   By Camilla Gryski.  Illustrated by Tom Sankey.  New York, William Morrow and Company, Morrow Junior Books, 1987.   80 pages.   ISBN:  068807684X.  
Many interesting new string figures in this fine book.  


The String Figures Store    Dave Titus from Lawton, Oklahoma. 


Fascinating String Figures   Edited by the International String Figure Association.    Dover Publications, 1996, 1999.   78 pages.   ISBN: 0486404005.   23 unique and many new string figures.  Excellent value at $5.95. 


String Games  By Richard Darsie.  Sterling, 2005.  96 pages.  ISBN: 1402727879.


Many Stars and More String Games   By Camilla Gryski.  Illustrated by Tom Sankey.   New York, William Morrow and Company, 1985.  80 pages.   ISBN: 0688057926.    Excellent instructions for doing a 8 part solo Cat's cradle.  Clear instructions and illustrations for making dozens of string figures - mostly from C. F. Jayne.  VSCL. 


 

                                   


Good Books to Buy for Children or Adults as Gifts for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas, or Just for Fun
Click on the book cover photographs for more ordering information. 

 

                                         

 

 

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Instructions for Making String Figures

String Figures, Tricks, Catches, Knots, Designs, Cat's Cradle Games
Instructions, Demonstrations, Directions, How To
Indexed by Mike Garofalo (Updated in March of 2010) 

 

Caterpillar   Video  

Cat's Cradle   Video Tutorial

Easy String Figures   WWW String Website 

Eiffel Tower   Video  

Fox and Whale   Video  

More Easy String Figures   WWW String Website 

Jacob's Ladder   

Jacob's Ladder    Video  

King Fish   Video

Myriam's Instructional Videos   Many string figures are demonstrated. 

Ogre 

Opening A, Oceanic Cradle 

Star   Video

Teacup   Video  

Wink   Video  

Witch's Broom   Video

 

 

 

 

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Notes, Comments, Ideas

String Figures, Tricks, Catches, Knots, Designs, Cat's Cradle Games
By Mike Garofalo

 

I originally published this bibliography on the Internet WWW in 2003.  In March, 2010, I began checking each link, and adding new links and print titles.  Approximately 40% of the webpages listed in 2003 were no longer online in 2010 and were removed.  The biggest change since 2003 has been the use of UTube by individuals who have placed string figures instructions and demonstrations online and interviews with string figure experts online.  Internet readers are reminded to save a good webpage to their hard drive or server, because it might not exist at a later date. 

The last time I really checked for new books on the subject was in the summer of 2011. 

I have been playing with, making and studying string figures since 1971.  The books on string figures in my home library in Red Bluff, California, are indicated by the code "VSCL" following the citation in the bibliography listed above.  The code "VSCL" stands for "Valley Spirit Center Library." 

On the average, this webpage is served to about 30 people each day.  Thanks for coming by.   

There are a number of good instructions and demonstrations online that include both written instructions and photographs, or UTube videos, of the step by step process of making a string figure.  I will add links to these informative instructions in the Autumn of 2013. 

 

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© 2003 - 2013, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California
Michael P. Garofalo, M.S., All Rights Reserved


E-Mail Mike Garofalo   

A Short Biography of Mike Garofalo 

Green Way Research


Strings on Your Fingers, Version 2.1  March 1, 2011

This webpage was last modified or updated by Mike and then published online on February 24, 2013. 

First published on the Internet in January, 2003


Mike Garofalo, String Figures, String Tricks, Knots Artist Performer Storyteller
Mike Garofalo is a certified substitute teacher, in grades K-12, in the State of California. 
American Indian Arts and Crafts 
Navaho string figures, string art, string stories, string lore 
Eskimo string figures, string art, string stories, string lore 
Native American, American Indian string figures, string art, string stories, string lore   
Pacific Islands string figures, string art, string stories, string lore
Asian, Chinese, Japanese string figures, string art, string stories, string lore 
Knot tying, knotting, knots, tying knots, knot lore, knots of the world, knot craft
Weaving, yard, rope, cord, cordage, string


Children's Programs and Workshops and Performances of String Figures Art by Mike Garofalo
School, Library, Club Workshops and Performances of String Figures and String Arts and Crafts by Mike Garofalo
American Indian Arts and Crafts Workshops and Performances of String Figures by Mike Garofalo
String Figures from Around the World Presentations, Performances, Lectures by Mike Garofalo
Children's Parties String Figures and Games Arts and Crafts by Mike Garofalo
Cat's Cradle Games for Children and Adults Workshop by Mike Garofalo 

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
Cities and small towns in the area: Oroville, Paradise, Durham, Chico, Hamilton City,
Corning, Rancho Tehama, Los Molinos, Tehama, Proberta, Gerber, Manton, Cottonwood,
Anderson, Shasta Lake, Palo Cedro, Igo, Ono, Redding, Shasta, Colusa, Willows,
Fall River, Montgomery Creek, Alturas, McCloud, Dunsmuir, Yreka, Happy Camp,
Shingletown, Burney, Mt. Shasta City, Weaverville, Williams, Chester, Orland,
Susanville, Weed, Gridley, Marysville, Yuba City, NorCalifia, CA, California. 

Children's Programs and Workshops and Performances of String Figures Art by Mike Garofalo
School, Library, Club Workshops and Performances of String Figures and String Arts and Crafts by Mike Garofalo
American Indian Arts and Crafts Workshops and Performances of String Figures by Mike Garofalo
String Figures from Around the World Presentations, Performances, Lectures by Mike Garofalo
Children's Parties String Figures and Games Arts and Crafts by Mike Garofalo

Garofalo, Michael M.S., Red Bluff, California, String Figures Performer.  Mike does string figures performances, workshops, and demonstrations of string figures and string games in the North Sacramento Valley.  He is available for string figures performances at events, in classrooms, in libraries, in bookstores, at clubs, etc.  Phone: 530-200-3546.  Mike is a certified substitute teacher, in grades K-12, in the State of California. 

 

 


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