LLX > Neil Parker > String Figures
The following list includes the references used in preparing these web pages, as well as a few other original articles from the early history of string figure research. In recent years the copyrights on the incunabula of the field (from the late 19th and early 20th centuries) have been expiring, and copies are becoming available online - links are included wherever I have been able to find online copies of the referenced documents. (Due to variations in copyright law, some documents may not be viewable in some jurisdictions.)
[Abraham 1932] Abraham, R[obert] M[orrison]. Winter Nights Entertainments. London: Constable and Company, Ltd., 1932. Reprinted 1961 as Easy-to-do Entertainments and Diversions with Coins, Cards, String, Paper and Matches, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. The chapter on string contains 18 string figures, as well as a number of tricks, many requiring additional equipment.
[Andersen 1927] Andersen, Johannes C[arl]. Maori String Figures. Wellington, New Zealand: The Board of Maori Ethnological Research, 1927. Contains 36 figures and 12 tricks from the Maori people of New Zealand, as well as instructions for a number of similar figures from elsewhere.
[Averkieva 1992] Averkieva, Julia, and Mark A[llen] Sherman. Kwakiutl String Figures. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1992. Contains 112 figures from the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) people of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Available online from the American Museum of Natural History.
[Ball 1911] Ball, W[alter] W[illiam] Rouse. Mathematical Recreations and Essays, 5th ed. London: Macmillan and Co., 1911. Contains a chapter discussing string figures, with instructions for 16 figures (mostly from [Jayne 1906]) and 11 tricks. Available online from The Internet Archive (9th ed.) and Google Books (8th ed.). (The string figure chapter first appeared in the 5th  edition, and is present through the 9th  edition. It's greatly reduced in the 10th  edition, and is completely missing in later editions.)
[Ball 1920] Ball, W[alter] W[illiam] Rouse. "String Figures," Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 23 (1): 77-110 (1920). An elementary lecture giving 9 figures, mostly taken from [Jayne 1906] and [K. Haddon 1912]. An appendix by Kathleen Haddon gives an additional 14 figures. Available online from The Internet Archive and the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
[Ball 1921] Ball, W[alter] W[illiam] Rouse. String Figures, 2nd ed. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 1921. An expanded version of [Ball 1920], with 26 figures, differing somewhat from the Royal Institution lecture list, and missing many of the figures from Haddon's appendix. Available online from The Internet Archive. The 3rd edition, reprinted 1971 as Fun With String Figures, New York: Dover Publications Inc., has two additional figures.
[Boas 1888] Boas, F[ranz]. "The Game of Cat's Cradle," Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie, 1: 229-230 (1888). The first modern published description of how to make string figures. Includes illustrations of 5 figures from Baffin Island, with instructions for making two of them. Available online from Google Books and The Internet Archive.
[Compton 1919] Compton, R[obert] H[arold]. "String Figures from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 49: 204-236 (1919). Twenty-five figures from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. Available online from the HathiTrust Digital Library.
[Cunnington 1906] Cunnington, William A[lfred]. "String Figures and Tricks from Central Africa," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 36: 121-131 (1906). Nineteen figures from various locations near Africa's rift valley lakes. Available online from Google Books.
[Davidson 1941] Davidson, Daniel Sutherland. "Aboriginal Australian String Figures," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 84: 763-901 (1941). Contains 68 figures and 6 tricks from Australia, some of which match some of Roth's drawings ([Roth 1902], [Jayne 1906]). Available online from Google Books.
[Dickey 1928] Dickey, Lyle A[lexander]. "String Figures from Hawaii," Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 54 (1928). Contains 126 figures, mostly from Hawaii, including some of the Hawaiian figures for which [Jayne 1906] provides pictures but no instructions. Available online from The Internet Archive and The University of Michigan Library.
[Gordon 1906] Gordon, G[eorge] B[yron]. "Notes on the Western Eskimo," University of Pennsylvania, Free Museum of Science and Art, Transactions of the Department of Archaeology, 2 (1): 87-97 (1906). Contains 20 figures from Alaska, including most of the Eskimo figures for which [Jayne 1906] provides pictures but no instructions (but Gordon's instructions, unfortunately, are difficult to follow). Available online from Google Books.
[Gray 1903] Gray, John. "Some Scottish String Figures," Man, 3: 117-118 (1903). Five figures from Scotland. Available online from Google Books.
[Haddon 1903] Haddon, Alfred C[ort]. "A Few American String Figures and Tricks," American Anthropologist, 5: 213-223 (1903). Twelve Native American figures. Available online from Google Books.
[Haddon 1906] Haddon, A[lfred] C[ort]. "String Figures from South Africa," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 36: 142-149 (1906). Nine figures from various locations in South Africa. Available online from Google Books.
[Haddon 1912] Haddon, A[lfred] C[ort]. "String Figures and Tricks," Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, 4: 320-341 (1912). London, Cambridge University Press. Contains 31 figures from the Torres Straits (between New Guinea and and Australia). Available online from Google Books.
[K. Haddon 1912] Haddon, Kathleen. Cat's Cradles from Many Lands. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912. A good cross-cultural collection, with instructions for 50 figures and 12 tricks from the South Pacific, Africa, America, and Indian Ocean. Available online from The Internet Archive.
[K. Haddon 1918] Haddon, Kathleen. "Some Australian String Figures," Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, N.S. 30(2): 121-136 (1918). Contains 24 figures from Australia, including a few that match some of Roth's drawings ([Roth 1902], [Jayne 1906]). Available online from The Internet Archive.
[K. Haddon 1930] Haddon, Kathleen. Artists in String. London: Methuen, 1930. An analysis of how the meanings attached to string figures reflect their makers' environments. Includes 41 figures from 5 cultures as examples.
[K. Haddon 1942] Haddon, Kathleen. String Games for Beginners, 2nd ed. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 1942. As the title indicates, a beginner's introduction, with 28 figures from all over the world.
[Hingston 1903] Hingston, Margaret A. "'The Candles' String Figure in Somerset," Man, 3: 147 (1903). A string figure series from Somserset, England. Available online from Google Books.
[Jayne 1906] Jayne, Carolyne Furness. String Figures. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906. Reprinted 1962 as String Figures and How to Make Them, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. The first, and still the largest, cross-cultural string figure collection - includes instructions for 97 figures, mostly but not exclusively from North America and the South Pacific, plus 7 of the author's own invention. Many copies available online, including Google Books, The Internet Archive, and a HTML transcription.
[Jenness 1920] Jenness, D[iamond]. "Papuan Cat's Cradles," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 50: 229-326 (1920). Forty-two figures and 6 tricks from Goodenough Island in Papua New Guinea. Avaliable online from HathiTrust Digital Library.
[Jenness 1924] Jenness, D[iamond]. Report of the Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913-18, Vol. 13, Part B (1924). Contains 156 figures, mostly from arctic Canada. Available online from The Internet Archive and the Canadian Museum of History (13.8MB PDF).
[Laile 2006] Laile, P. Raymond, Joseph D'Antoni, and Mark Sherman, translation by Axel Reichert. "The String Games and Cat's Cradles of Palau," Bulletin of the International String Figure Association, 13: 1-163 (2006). A translation of a 1911 article on the strings figures of Palau (P. Raymund, "Die Faden- und Abnehmespiele auf Palau," Anthropos, 6: 40-61 (1911)), with an introduction and reconstructed methods 101 the figures (the original author provides only pictures of the finished patterns).
[Landtman 1914] Landtman, G[unnar]. "Cat's Cradles of the Kiwai Papuans, British New-Guinea," Anthropos, 9: 221-232 (1914). Sixteen figures and 4 tricks from Kiwai Island in Papua New Guinea. Available online from HathiTrust Digital Library.
[Leeming 1940] Leeming, Joseph. Fun with String. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1940. Reprinted 1974 by Dover Publications, Inc. Includes a chapter on string figures, with 17 figures. Google Books has a partial preview.
[Lutz 1912] Lutz, Frank E[ugene]. "String Figures from the Patomana Indians of British Guiana," Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 12(1): 1-14 (1912). Eleven figures from the Patomana people of Guyana. Available online from Google Books and the American Museum of Natural History.
[Mary-Rousselière 1969] Mary-Rousselière, Guy. "Les Jeux de Ficelle des Arviligjuarmiut," Musées Nationaux du Canada Bulletin 233 (1969). Contains 112 figures from central arctic Canada, but with instructions given only when they differ from or are not found in [Jenness 1924] or [Paterson 1949]. In French. Available online from the Canadian Museum of History (16MB PDF).
[Maude 1958] Maude, H[onor] C[ourtney], and H[enry] E[vans] Maude. "String-Figures from the Gilbert Islands," Memoirs of the Polynesian Society, No. 13 (1958). Contains 127 figures and tricks from the Gilbert Islands. Available online from the HathiTrust Digital Library. The first 72 pages were published in several installments by the Journal of the Polynesian Society in 1936-1938 - these are available online from the Journal's web site (Pages 1-40, Pages 41-56, Pages 57-72).
[Maude 1984] Maude, Honor. String Figures from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. Canberra: Homa Press, 1984. Fifty figures and 5 tricks from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.
[Maude 2001] Maude, Honor, with members of the International String Figure Association. The String Figures of Nauru Island, 2nd ed. Nauru: University of the South Pacific Centre and Suva: Fiji Islands, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, 2001. Contains 143 figures from Nauru Island, including all of the Nauruan figures for which [Jayne 1906] provides pictures but no instructions. Google Books has a partial preview.
[Parkinson 1906] Parkinson, John. "Yöruba String Figures," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 36: 132-141 (1906). Sixteen figures from the Yoruba people of west Africa. Available online from Google Books.
[Paterson 1949] Paterson, T[homas] T[homson]. "Eskimo String Figures and Their Origin," Acta Arctica, 3: 1-98 (1949). Contains 218 figures from Greenland and arctic Canada. Tries to be a catalog of all Eskimo figures documented up to 1949, and thus includes most of the figures from [Jenness 1924], as well as a number of figures from other publications for which no instructions are available. Instructions are included only for those figures the author personally collected on Greenland and Ellesmere Island.
[Rivers 1902] Rivers, W[illiam] H[alse] R[ivers], and A[lfred] C[ort] Haddon. "A Method of Recording String Figures and Tricks," Man, 2: 146-153 (1902). This is the article that first introduced a systematic method of recording instructions for making string figures. Includes 12 figures as examples. Available online from Google Books.
[Stanley 1926] Stanley, G[eorge] A[rthur] V[ickers]. "String-Figures of the North Queensland Aborigines," Queensland Geographical Journal, 40-41: 73-92 (1926). Eighteen figures from Yarrabah (near Cairns), on the northwest coast of Australia, including a few which match some of Roth's drawings ([Roth 1902], [Jayne 1906]). Available online from The Internet Archive.
[Teit 1900] Teit, James. "The Thompson Indians of British Columbia," Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 2, no. 4, ed. Franz Boas (1900). On page 282, drawings by Harlan I. Smith illustrate (without words) the construction of two figures. Available online from The Internet Archive and The American Museum of Natural History.
[Tessmann 2001] Tessman, Günter, translated by Axel Reichert, annotated by Mark Sherman. "Pangwe and Bubi String Figures," Bulletin of the International String Figure Association, 8: 125-201 (2001). Contains 48 figures from west-central Africa, with instructions translated from Tessmann, Günter, "Der Kinderspiele der Pangwe, Baessler-Archiv, II (5/6): 250-280 (1912), and Tessmann, Günter, Die Bubi auf Fernando Poo: Völkerkundliche Einzelbeschreibung eines westafrikanischen Negerstammes, Darmstadt: Folkwang-Verlag, 1923.
[Culin 1899] Culin, Stewart. "Hawaiian Games," American Anthropologist, 1: 201-247 (1899). Has a brief explanation (pages 222-223) and drawings of 16 figures (plates XII - XV, following pages 222, 224, and 226) collected from four Hawaiian sailors. Available online from Google Books.
[Maude 1966] Maude, Honor. "String Figures and How to Make Them, by Caroline Furness Jayne," Oceania, 36: 242-243 (1966). A review of [Jayne 1906], written on the occasion of the publication of the Dover reprint.
[Roth 1902] Roth, Walter E[dmund]. "Games, Sports, and Amusements," North Queensland Ethnography, 4 (1902). Contains a brief explanantion (pages 10-11) and drawings (plates III - XII, following page 24) of 74 figures from North Queensland, Australia. Available online from Google Books.
LLX > Neil Parker > String Figures