Five stones

Five stones is played by 2 or more players, using 5 small triangular cloth bags filled with rice, sand or saga seeds. The object is to complete a set of eight steps. The winner is the one completing a set the most number of tries. The game is similar to "jacks" but unlike its Western counterpart, is not played with a ball. A modified version is called "Four stones" which is played with four rather than five bags.

Game Play
Step 1: Throw all five stones. Whilst throwing a stone, pick up one stone and catch the stone in the air before it falls to the ground. Do this for each of the stones on the ground.

Step 2: Repeat step 1 but pick up two stones at a time.

Step 3: Repeat step 1 but pick up a combination of three stones and one.

Step 4: Throw all five stones. Pick up four stones whilst one stone is in the air and catch the later before it falls to the ground.

Step 5: Whilst throwing one stone, place the four on the ground. Throw one stone up again and catch it whilst picking all four stones on the ground.

Step 6: Throw all five stones on the ground. Pick two stones. Throw one in the air and exchange the other with one on the ground. Do the same with the remaining stones on the ground.

Step 7: Throw the two stones held at the end of Step 6. Pick up one stone and then catch the two falling stones separately in each hand. Do this until there is three stones in one hand and two in the other. Throw the two stones and catch it separately. Throw the remaining stone and catch it with the hand that has all the stones.

Step 8: Throw all five stones on the ground. The opponent selects a stone to be thrown in the air. The player has to pick this stone without moving any others. The player throws the stone in the air and picks the remaining on the ground in one clean sweep.

If at any point of time the player fails to complete this set of eight steps, he/she will have to forfeit his turn to his opponent. Upon his opponent's failure to complete, he will return to the incomplete step, starting from the very beginning of that step.

Bonny Tan

Kampong days: Village life and times in Singapore revisited (pp. 28-29). (1993). Singapore: National Archives.
(Call no.: SING 959.57 KAM)). 

Ministry of Education. (1998). Traditional games (pp. 31-33). Singapore: Curriculum Planning & Development, Ministry of Education.
(Call no.: RQUICK 796 SIN) 

Singapore days of old: A special commemorative history of Singapore published on the 10th anniversary of Singapore Tatler (p. 156). (1992). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
(Call no.: SING 959.57 SIN)

Games Spore children used to play. (1989, November 8). The Straits Times (n.d.). Historic & ethnic games. Retrieved November 11, 2003, from

The Singapore Muslim Community Page. (n.d.). "Five stones": Games of yesteryear. Retrieved November 11, 2003, from

Further Readings
Singapore Sports Council. (2003). Five stones. Retrieved January 6, 2005, from

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Sports, recreation and travel>>Indoor games

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