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Puluc, also called Boolik and Bul, is a game played by the Kekchi people of North Guatemala in Central America. It is played in the outlying districts, often by the light of a fire. The Kekchi people are descendants of the Mayans, which induces some authors to speculate that Puluc is a Mayan game.
It is a running fight game, a kind of war game played on a one-dimensional track, or maize highway. The forces of each player race towards each other into battle, capturing and killing each other until only one side remains on the field. A track is usually separated into spaces by corn cobs, and the players use pieces of stick or leaf, controlling the moves by throws of ears of corn scorched or marked on one side.
Much of the history of Puluc is gained from inference. The American ethnographer Stewart Culin, who published a number of studies about games around the world, excluded it from a list of games influenced by Europeans, suggesting that it was invented before – or was at least unaffected by – European contact.
Enigmatic stone etchings depicting a possibly similar game have also been found, along with a 2-dimensional cross-shaped boards where two similar tracks overlay each other. Both boards have a special marking on the central space. It is not clear whether these one-dimensional tracks are related to Puluc or are for some other game.
The modern Kekchi people play a variant devoid of all strategy. The strategic variant was presented in English in 1960 by the board game historian R. C. Bell. This was taken from a 1906 German description by Karl Sapper in the Boas Anniversary Volume, a collection of articles in honour of anthropologist Franz Boas.
Three different Puluc boards.
YouTube clips not in English.