JAMRUD, December 18: Though modern age has brought noticeable change in society, certain traditional games are still being played. Marbles is one such game that has become a pastime of youngsters in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency in ongoing winter season.

A marble is a small spherical toy made of glass, steel, or agate. The balls vary in size, mostly about 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter.

The Jamrud Sports Complex witnesses various sports tournaments. However, there are many youngsters who love to play marbles in the chilly weather of December in Khyber Agency.

Sixteen-year-old Ghalib Khan also likes playing marbles. “I love the marbles to an extent that I will play with them even if I turn 40. I am expert in this game and I always win it. I have a huge collection of them,” he says.

Another tribesman, Jehanzeb, said, “We used to play this game in Tirah Valley but it was different from the one that is played by the children over here.”

The 30-year-old tribesman adds that the marbles they played were different because they used to play with walnuts instead of marbles and that the winning person used to eat them as reward.

According to a book “Marble History”, marbles were first manufactured in Germany in the 1800s and ever since the game got popular in various countries including the United States.

The British and World Marbles Championship has been held in West Sussex, England, every year since 1932.

In Pakistan, the marbles sports is said to have originated in Harappan civilisation near the River Indus. Various marbles of stone were found during excavation near famous archaeological site of Mohenjo-daro.

Marbles have also been mentioned in the Roman literature while ancient Egypt also has examples of marbles commonly made of clay, stone or glass.

Marbles are known as “bilori” or “shinoli” in Pashto language. Though many settled in urban areas may have forgotten this indigenous sport, people in tribal areas love to play the traditional game.

A child playing marbles.


Ayaz Raza in Jamrud and Muhammad Shahid in Peshawar have contributed to this report.