Bulletin of String Figures Association
From 1978 to 1993, articles written by members of ISFA appeared in Bulletin of String Figures Association (BSFA), published by Nippon Ayatori Kyokai (the Japanese String Figure Association). The series was co-edited by Dr. Hiroshi Noguchi, Tokyo, and Rev. Philip Noble, Prestwick, Scotland. Only 100 copies of each issue were printed, most being distributed to association members.
In 1994 a new series was founded under the editorship of Mark Sherman. The new series, Bulletin of the International String Figure Association, is published by ISFA Press, Pasadena, California.
Below is a cumulative, annotated index of the original series.
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No. 1 (1978) - 4 pages
- Noguchi, H. & Noble, P. D. The Articles of the Association (page 1) - Japanese String Figure Association charter and bylaws.
- Eguchi, M. A Way of Making a String Design Similar in Appearance to the Nauru String Figure "Mat" (page 2) - an early attempt to reconstruct Jayne fig. 830.
- Noguchi, H. A Papua New Guinea String Figure "Turtle" (pages 3-4) - learnt from Miss Mary Tabogani in 1974.
No. 2 (1979) - 8 pages
- Natubori, K. Cats Cradle for One Person (pages 1-3) - describes four methods collected in Japan.
- Kamiya, K. Variations of Jacob's Ladder (pages 4-6) - presents 12 variations of this well-known figure.
- Mita, M. A Remark on the Japanese Design "Turtle" (page 7) - method for making a popular Japanese string figure.
- Maude, H. C. Special Offer to the Members of the String Figures Association of Japan (page 8) - advertisement for string figure books authored by Honor Maude.
No. 3 (1979) - 10 pages
- Noguchi, H. & Noble, P. D. The Articles of the Association (page 1) - Japanese String Figure Association charter and bylaws.
- Noble, P. D. String Figures in Papua New Guinea (pages 2-4) - Narrative describing Reverand Noble's experiences collecting string figures in Papua New Guinea in 1972-75. His collection was published in book form in 1979 (see String Figure Bibliography).
- Broos, H. & Humphrey, J. The Art of Variation (pages 5-8) - presents 6 variations of the "Apache Door" string figure.
- Shishido, Y. A Nauru Dandy (pages 8-10) - Shishido's first published attempt at reconstructing Jayne fig. 841 (see also no. 6, page 20). Includes two variations.
No. 4 (1980) - 13 pages
- Noble, P. D. String Games and Paper Equivalent Models (pages 1-5) - mathematical discussion of how to make paper equivalents of knots, including many simple string figures.
- Shishido, Y. The Hull of a Ship of Nauru, and Stairs of the Eskimos (pages 5-8) - Shishido's attempted reconstructions Jayne fig. 827 and fig. 816. See also Shishido, BSFA no. 11.
- Biedermann-Wiens, A. & Small, A. A Malaysian Fisherman and Two Women Grinding Corn (pages 8-12) - presents two African string figures learnt from L. S. B. Leakey.
- Inayama, A. Bihinama (pages 12-13) - instructions for making a popular string figure from Papua New Guinea.
No. 5 (1980) - 16 pages
- Noble, P. D. Echo (Imitation) from Southern Papua (pages 2-5) - instructions and distribution analysis for a popular string figure from Papua New Guinea.
- Noguchi, H. Harvest of Yams (pages 6-9) - instructions for making a popular string figure from Papua New Guinea.
- Maude, H. C. Special Offer to the Members of the String Figures Association (page 9) - advertisement for string figure books authored by Honor Maude.
- Roleas, P. Traditional Games of Papua New Guinea: An Introduction (pages 10-16) - general discussion of the obstacles researchers face in collecting traditional games. Includes a photo of a string figure being displayed by a native.
No. 6 (1981) - 21 pages
- Maude, H. C. Two Birds, Bird's Eggs, and a Flock of Birds; from the Island of Uvea in the Loyalty Group (pages 2-3) - instructions for making two Uvea string figures collected in 1950. Maude's complete collection was published in 1984 (see String Figure Bibliography).
- Maekawa, J. Flag Patterns (pages 4-7) - Seven novel string figures representing flags, all invented by the author.
- Shishido, Y. Geometrical Figures (pages 8-14) - first in a series of ingenious string figures invented by the author. See also BSFA nos. 7, 8, and 15.
- Shishido, Y. The Reconstruction of Nauruan String Figures (pages 15-20) - Shishido's attempted reconstructions of Jayne fig. 831 (a "Butterfly"), Jayne fig. 838 ("Etaroking" - priestess), Jayne fig. 833 ("Representation of a mat"), and his second reconstruction Jayne fig. 839 ("A Nauru Dandy"). Alternative methods for the second and fourth figures appear in D'Antoni's summary article (BISFA, vol. 2 (1995)).
No. 7 (1982) - 32 pages
- Noguchi, H. String Figures in Japan I (pages 1-21) - first in a series of four papers documenting the traditional string figures of Japan. See also BSFA nos. 9, 10, and 13.
- Shishido, Y. Geometrical Figures 2 (pages 22-27) - presents additional string figures invented by the author. Includes several three-dimensional "helix" figures.
- Sato, T. "Apache Doors" Intertwining at Many Points (pages 28-31) - Instructions for increasing the complexity of a popular Native American string figure. See also revised methods in BSFA no. 15.
No. 8 (1982) - 44 pages
- Maude, H. C. Two Figures from New Caledonia (pages 1-3) - Methods for making "Ketiouae" and "Shuttle for Fishing Net." Maude's complete collection was published in 1984 (see String Figure Bibliography).
- Shishido, Y. Geometrical Figures 3 (pages 4-18) - Instructions for making 10 remarkably original string figures invented by the author. Includes an "Octogram," an "X" (with variations), a "Pentagram," "Pascal's Hexagon," a "Hexagram," a "Sandglass," "Three Hexagrams," another "Octagram," a "Windmill," and a "Shooting Star."
- Read, R. Reconstructions of some South American String Figures (pages 19-38) - Read's attempted reconstructions of 18 string figures appearing in Stig Ryden's 1934 paper (see String Figure Bibliography).
- Noble, P. D., Noguchi, H., Small, A. Storer, T., Maude, H. Correspondence on International String Game Conference (pages 39-42) - Letters to the editor expressing opinions on the feasibility of holding an international conference on string figures.
- Storer, T. Sacred Circle (page 41) - Illustration of a highly ornate Native American string figure. Method later appeared in Paturi's 1988 book (see String Figure Bibliography). This figure also inspired many stunning variations (see Paturi, BSFA no. 15).
- Noguchi, H. Partial Membership List (page 43) - Names and addresses of International members.
No. 9 (1983) - 44 pages
- Shishido, Y. The Endless String Figure (pages 1-4) - Instructions for making a remarkably novel string figure series that includes 7 designs. The series ends with the first figure, thus generating a "cycle."
- Maude, H. C. Variation of Two Gilbertese Figures (pages 5-7) - describes two string figures variations discovered by the author that require the deletion rather than the addition of movements.
- Noble, P. D. String Figure "The Forth Bridge" (pages 8-12) - remarks on geographical distribution of the ever popular "Jacob's Ladder" string figure.
- Read, R. An Abbreviated Notation for Recording String Figures (pages 13-20) - the first of several papers proposing a shorthand method for recording string figure construction methods, (see also Storer's "String Figures," BSFA special issue no. 16).
- Noguchi, H. String Figures in Japan II (pages 21-43) - second in a series of four papers documenting the traditional string figures of Japan. See also BSFA nos. 7, 10, and 13.
No. 10 (1984) - 42 pages
- Noguchi, H. String Figures in Japan III (pages 1-33) - third in a series of four papers documenting the traditional string figures of Japan. See also BSFA nos. 7, 9, and 13.
- Shishido, Y. The Butterfly and the Dragonfly (pages 34-37) - presents two life-like string figures invented by the author.
- Sherman, M. A. The Window (pages 38-39) - presents a net-like string figure invented by the author.
- Noguchi, H. Partial Members List (pages 40-41) - Names and addresses of International members.
No. 11 (1985) - 29 pages
- Shishido, Y. Reconstructions of Two Figures (Aom, Quebracho Tree and variations) (pages 1-7) - presents Shishido's reconstruction of a Nauruan string figure appearing in Maude's 1971 book, and a Toba Indian (Argentina) string figure collected by Ryden, 1934 (for the latter figure, see also Paturi's method, BSFA no. 11, and Sherman's method, BSFA no. 17). Quebracho Tree is accompanied by four variations, one of which realistically portrays two dogs.
- Shishido, Y. Supplement (Eskimo stairs, Gordon description) (pages 8-9) - revised instructions for making an Eskimo string figure published by Gordon in 1906 (see String Figure Bibliography).
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Three String Tricks from the Wolof Tribe in Senegal (pages 10-11) - collected by the author in 1976.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Reconstruction of a Quebracho Tree (or a Yuchan Tree) - Argentina (page 12) - see also Shishido's method (BSFA no. 11) and Sherman's method (BSFA no. 17).
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Reconstruction of Eden Kadama (Hook for Catching Flying Fish in the Daytime) - Nauru (page 13) - Author's method for making an elaborate string figure appearing in Maude's 1971 book. Three additional methods are described in D'Antoni's paper (BISFA, vol. 2, 1995).
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Reconstruction of Ibiaro (Representation of twin children) - Nauru (page 14) - Author's method for making an elaborate string figure appearing in Maude's 1971 book. See also D'Antoni's reconstruction (BISFA vol. 2, 1995).
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Four Eyes, a figure from the Wolof Tribe in Senegal (page 15) - collected by the author in 1976.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Unnamed String Figure from the Wolof Tribe in Senegal (page 16) - collected by the author in 1976.
- Watkins, K. Pac-Man (page 17) - the ever-popular video game personality immortalized in string.
- Harbison, R. & Reichelt, R. Some String Figures from Papua New Guinea (pages 18-27) - instructions for making 12 string figures collected by the authors.
- Rishbeth, H. String Figures on Television (page 28) - letter to the editor describing the Kathleen Haddon's appearances on British television in 1938 (!) and 1948.
No. 12 (1985) - 69 pages
No. 13 (1986) - 49 pages
- Storer, T. String Figure Bibliography (pages 1-66) - a groundbreaking study listing over 600 references to articles, books, and monographs that mention or describe string figures. A second edition with over 1300 entries is available from ISFA Press (consult the abridged, on-line edition of Storer'sString Figure Bibliography).
- Noguchi, H. Partial Members List (pages 67-68) - Names and addresses of International members.
- Sherman, M. A. A Comparision: String Figures with Origami (pages 1-6) - an essay that examines the similarities and differences between these two common forms of amusement.
- Maude, H. C. String Figures from Tonga (pages 7-21) - presents fifteen string figures and two string tricks collected by the author in 1941.
- Noguchi, H. String Figures in Japan IV (pages 22-43) - fourth in a series of four papers documenting the traditional string figures of Japan. See also BSFA nos. 7, 9, and 10.
- Hardy Jr., I. T. String Figures and the Folklife Festival (pages 44-46) - a letter to the editor describing the author's attempt to introduce a string figure demonstration into the annual folklife festival sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
- Noguchi, H. Partial Members List (pages 47-48) - Names and addresses of International members.
No. 14 (1987) - 72 pages
- Maude, H. C. String Figures from the Torres Strait (pages 1-35) - presents instructions for making 29 string figures captured on film by Wolfgang Laade in 1967.
- Noble, P. D. String Figures (pages 36-37) - commentary on Sherman's article comparing string figures with origami (BSFA no. 13).
- Shishido, Y. & Noguchi, H. Some String Figures of Highland People in Papua New Guinea (pages 38-69) - presents 27 string figures collected by the second author in 1984.
- Noguchi, H. Index to No. 1-14 (1978-1987) (pages 70-71).
No. 15 (1988) - 57 pages
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. String Figures and Monotheism (pages 1-2) - an enthralling essay that attempts to explain the absence of string figures in Europe the Middle East.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Reconstruction of Two South American String Figures (page 3) - presents author's reconstructions of two Tapirape Indian (Brazil) string figures originally described by Kissenberth (1922), "Praying Mantis" and "Creeping Insect."
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. An Uncommon String Figure from Germany (page 4) - instructions for making a string figure known in Germany/Poland for at least three generations.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. "Freezing" String Figures (pages 5-7) - an ingenious method for preserving string figure specimens that employs a two-component polyurethane paint.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Contemporary String Figures - Part II (pages 8-10) - presents four pleasing designs invented by the author. A "sequel" to the following paper:
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Modern String Figures (pages 11-24) - presents 37 unbelievably intricate variations of the Native American "Sacred Circle" string figure (see Storer, BSFA no. 8). Figures are named after celestial bodies and signs of the zodiac. Highly recommended.
- Mindt-Paturi, F. R. Mexican Notes (pages 25-27) - observations on string figure activity in Mexico, made by the author during a three week visit in 1988.
- Sato, T. "Apache Door" Intertwining at Many Points (Revised Version) (pages 28-29) - a revision of the author's 1982 paper (BSFA no. 7).
- Sato, T. Star (pages 29-30) - method for making a string figure invented by the author.
- Sato, T. String Figures with Two Loops (pages 30-41) - highly original study that presents methods for making 15 string figures, invented by the author, requiring two loops of string.
- Sherman, M. A. String Figure Mounting (pages 42-44) - describes a rapid and easy method for permanently fastening a string figure to a matte board.
- Shishido, Y. Geometrical Figures 4 (pages 45-52) - instructions for making 5 highly original, three-dimensional string figures invented by the author. Includes "One Crystal," "Two Crystals,""Three Crystals,""Lozenge Ring I," and "Lozenge Ring II."
- Hardy Jr., I. T. Smithsonian Museum Folklife Festival; The History of Cat's Cradle and Other String Figures (pages 53-55) - Letter to the editor describing (1) the Smithsonian Institute's response to the authors recommendation that string figures be included in their folklife festival; and (2) early references to the game of cat's cradle in Western (and Japanese) literature.
No. 16 (1988) - Supplemental Issue in Two Parts - 410 pages
- Part I: Storer, T. String Figures (pages 1-231) - Monumental study providing a detailed mathematical ("topological") analysis of four common string figure families: The "Brochos" family, the "Osage Diamonds" family, the "Crow's Feet" family, and the "Bear" family. Each chapter concludes with a comprehensive bibliography listing all known references to the parent figure. The work is prefaced by a "Systemology" chapter in which Storer proposes his own, highly original shorthand notation for recording string figure construction methods. Additional terms and symbols are introduced, as needed, in the four chapters that follow. Although highly technical, the work is readily comprehended thanks to Storer's concise and explicit style of writing. Dr. Storer is a professor a Mathematics at the University of Michigan.
- Part II: Storer, T. String Tricks (pages 232-410) - Storer's opus concludes with a lengthy chapter devoted to the mathematical principles underlying "string tricks," which Storer divides into six categories: Knots, Plaits, "Do-as-I-do" tricks, Swindles, Releases, and Illusions. The chapter includes a 24-page bibliography listing all known references to string tricks. In addition, each listed trick is accompanied by a code that indicates the category into which it falls.
No. 16 (1989) - 56 pages
- D'Antoni, J. String Figures (pages 1-11) - presents 20 string figures invented by the author. The figures are classified as being either "nets" or "diamond figures." Includes many fine patterns.
- Shishido, Y. Symmetrical String Figures 1 (pages 12-21) - another series of outstanding inventions by string figure artist Yukio Shishido. Includes 5 new designs, many of which were inspired by a three-dimensional Solomon Island figure known as "Vutu" (Maude, 1978).
- Small, A. C. Explanations and Directions (pages 22-24) - a description of how the hand movements used in weaving a string figure can be synchronized to emphasize the underlying rhythms of recited poetry.
- Hornbostel, E. M. von, & Sherman, M. A. Kwakiutl String Figures: A Preface (pages 25-48) - an essay written in by ethnomusicologist Erich von Hornbostel, originally intended as a preface to Julia Averkieva's 1930 monograph entitled "Kwakiutl String Games" (published in 1992 by the American Museum of Natural History, see String Figure Bibliography). Includes a discussion of describing the use of string figures as charms by shamans.
- D'Antoni, J. Two Figures from Roth's Plates (page 49) - Letter to the editor providing reconstructions for "two white cranes" (plate V, fig. 4) and "two boys carrying spears" (plate III, fig. 1).
- Johnston Abraham, A. History of Cat's Cradle (pages 50-51) - a response to Hardy's letter (BSFA no. 15) requesting information on the history of cat's cradle in Europe and Asia (for a complete discussion see Abraham's 1988 book).
- Shishido, Y. The Earliest Description of a String Figure (pages 52-53) - reproduction of Miller's 1945 paper in which the author proposes that the first written occurrence of a string figure construction method can be found in a Greek physician's handbook dated A.D. 400.
- Laughlin, S. B. String Figures among the Aleuts (page 54) - Letter to the editor confirming the occurrence of string figures among the Aleuts of southern Alaska.
- Maude, H. C. Figures from Tuvalu; Japanese Extension (page 55) - Letter to the editor confirming the existence of a field notes in the author's possession describing 25 string figures from the Ellice Islands (Tuvalu). The letter concludes with a remark on the probable Japanese origin of a method used in Hawaii for extending string figures.
No. 17 (1991) - 112 pages
No. 18 (1992) - 130 pages
- Shishido, Y. Symmetrical String Figures 2 (pages 1-11) - presents another 5 three dimensional string figures invented by the author. Includes "Fruits," "Fruits II," "Polyhedron IIIa," "Polyhedron IVa," and "Polyhedron Va."
- D'Antoni, J. String Figures II (pages 12-27) - another set of 30 string figures invented by the author. Figures 1-12 are variations of "Two Chiefs," described by Jayne. Figures 13-16 are variations of "A Mountain," described by K. Haddon. Figures 17-26 are "diamond" figures (a continuation of D'Antoni's 1989 study). Figures 27-30 are variations of "Eongatubabo," a Nauruan technique described by Maude, 1971.
- Sherman, M. A. Rationally-Designed String Figures: Variations of the Kwakiutl Figure "Two Trees" (pages 29-106) - a detailed study that identifies stages in the construction of a Native American string figure capable of tolerating change, stages which the author refers to as "nodes." A systematic exploration of these nodes gives rise to hundreds of additional designs, 136 of which are described in this paper. The author describes how a string figure can be "designed" once the principles underlying it construction are understood.
- Sherman, M. A. Bulletin of String Figures Association on Microfiche (pages 107-108) - Letter to the editor proposing an economical alternative to the distribution of BSFA photocopies.
- Noble, P. D. Paper Folding, String Games, Juggling, Bubble-Blowing, Story Telling (page 109) - Letter to the editor describing the lastest antics and travel adventures of our beloved co-editor.
- Laughlin, S. B. Leakey's "In Angola There are No String Figures" (page 110) - Letter to the editor identifying a 1990 article on string figures by L.S.B. Leakey in Anthro Quest, no. 42.
- D'Antoni, J. Classical Nets (pages 1-6) - Net-like string figures are constructed by a multitude of techniques and appear worldwide. In this article, the author describes a method of producing 158 classical nets and 30 incidental figures. The power of using a matrix for generating variations is also illustrated.
- Shishido, Y. Symmetrical String Figures 3 (pages 7-25) - a continuation of the author's previous exploration of three-dimensional string figures. Included are "Trigonal Antiprism," "Polyhedron IIa, method 2," "Polyhedron IIIb," "Tetragonal Antiprism," "Polyhedron IVa," "Polyhedron IVb," "Quasi-Tetrahedron,"Coming to the Right, Going to the Left," "Two Nuts," "Helix - Right Handed," "Helix - Left Handed," "Parallelo Hexahedron."
- Ornstein, J. Intension vs. Extension - an Inquiry into the Aesthetics of String Figures (pages 26-33) - an exploration of how multiple designs can arise from a single string figure depending on the degree of tension employed in extending it.
- Sherman, M. A. Mary-Rousseliere's "Les Jeux de Ficelle des Arviligjuarmiut" - An English Translation (pages 34-89) - presents a French to English translation of the second half of M-R's groundbreaking 1969 monograph. In it, the author analyzes the figures he gathered among the Arviligjuarmiut (a subgroup of Netsilik Eskimos) from a cultural, archaeological, and linguistic point of view. The author's theories on the origin and diffusion of string figures in North America are particularly attractive and well-thought. An English translation of Part I, which includes dozens of string figure construction methods, will appear in forthcoming issues of BISFA.
- D'Antoni, J. "Residue Classes and String Figures" by Ali R. Amir-Moez, Translated by Joseph D'Antoni (pages 90-125) - presents a French to English translations of Amir-Moez's 1968 paper. Chapter 1 describes methods for varying the number of diamonds in the common "Jacob's Ladder" string figure. Chapter 2 presents a mathematical analysis of the principles established in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 is a mathematical analysis of a common string trick ("Carrot Thief"). In Chapter 4, a symbolic notation for recording string figure construction methods is proposed. Chapter 5 develops the concept of "induction." The final chapter explores the idea of combining symbols with explanation in order to describe string figures. Each chapter includes exercises to test the reader's conprehension.
- Cannarozzi Yada, S. A Creation for the Museum of Royal Ropeworks in Western France (page 126) - Letter to the editor that includes a string figure invented by the author.
- D'Antoni, J. Errata, String Figures II (page 127) - refers to the author's 1991 paper (BSFA no. 17).
- Maude, H. C. Errata, String Figures of Pukapuka (page 127) - refers to the author's 1989 monograph co-authored by Pearl Beaglehole.
No. 19 (1993) - 100 pages
- Sherman, M. A. Bulletin of String Figures Association - Celebrating 15 Years (pages 1-2) - Summary statement that closes the series and acknowledges the accomplishments of the editors and contributors. Introduces Mark Sherman as editor of the new series.
- Cannarozzi Yada, S. Stringeries (pages 3-10) - A fanciful exploration of the social and psychological needs that strings figures satisfy. Poses many interesting questions about string figure origins. Concludes with a discussion on the relatedness of string figures and textile weaving.
- Engelhardt, U. Variation of Nets (pages 11-15) - presents four net-like string figures invented by the author. A continuation of D'Antoni's 1992 study entitled "Classical Nets."
- Engelhardt, U. Spectacles for Your Nose (pages 17-18) - an endearing string figure invented by the author.
- Sherman, M. A. Evolution of the Easter Island String Figure Repertoire (pages 19-87) - presents a detailed analysis of the movements used in making the so-called "traditional" string figures of the Easter Island repertoire. The author then shows how the islanders incorporated these techniques into the design of many new figures, thus providing probable construction methods for nearly all of the 81 string figures illustrations published by Ramon Campbell in 1971. Historic events that may have led to the recent introduction of "foreign" figures into the repertoire are also examined. The paper concludes with a "family tree" that illustrates how the entire Easter Island string figure repertoire evolved from a few simple figures.
- Cannarozzi Yada, S. The "Humanity" of String Figures (page 88) - Letter to the editor protesting the application of mathematical principles to the systematic generation of new string figures.
- Steele Foerch, J. Alternative Construction for Leashing of Lochiel's Dogs (page 89) - Letter to the editor describing a recently invented method for making a popular string figure.
- Sherman, M.A. Cumulative Index, no. 1-19 (1978-93) (pages 90-98) - includes a chronological index, author index, and subject index.
Last updated January 27, 2017
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