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Popular game epitomizes Kuwaiti folklore – ‘Mhaibis’

Adel Al-Abdulmughni

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 4, (KUNA): Utter silence would soon turn into deafening shrieks as Kuwaitis in the days of yore beguile the frosty nights of winter in good-humored fun. This was typically the scene of a Kuwaiti pastime known as “Mhaibis”, which in national vernacular denotes a ring, where shrewdness is the name of the game.

Speaking to KUNA, Kuwaiti historian Adel Al-Abdulmughni revealed that the game attracted children and adults alike during the frigid nights of winter, all of them cuddled up by the wood-burning stove to shield themselves from the numbing cold outside. He reminisced that the game comprised two opposing teams of three to five players who would sit facing each other with a cloth barrier separating them to create invisibility.

A draw is then held to determine which team would claim the ring first, which is subsequently hidden in the clutch of a team member, Al- Abdulmughni added. Afterwards, once the barrier is lifted, the opposing team would then handpick a player on whom they could trust to detect the whereabouts of the ring, as the person chosen would inspect the opposing team’s countenance and body language in hopes of locating the ring.

That player would then hazard a guess on who happens to have the ring in their hands, in which his or her success (or lack thereof) determines which team bags a point, the Kuwaiti chronicler explained. “Mhaibis” was among a plethora of games that have stood the test of time with each successive generation, all of which are deeply steeped in the tradition and folklore of Kuwait.

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