ALAK-DOLAK, the game of tipcat, played for centuries in Iran, Afghanistan, and surrounding countries. Many variations are known; basically, a bat (dolak) is used to strike a wooden peg (alak), which fielders recover and then throw at the dolak placed on the ground. ʿA. A. Ḥekmat suggests that the great variety of local names is one indication of the game’s antiquity; these include čalok-mosta (Shiraz), pel-čoftak, pel o čofta (Isfahan), čafta-bāzī (Kermān), aṛča-ḵolūf (Māzandarān), ala-čū (Borūǰerd and Hamadān), lū-čonba (Mašhad), gāl-čūb (Nīšābūr), pātīmār-bāzī (Gīlān), alak-bāzī (Bīrǰand), alū-kān (Sanandaǰ), pīl-dasta (Tabrīz), amī-bī (Behbahān), halākūta (Semnān), alā-čonbeš (Qazvīn), alkān-čūčakān (Kabul), gāl-čonba (Herat), čīlī, čālak, and čīla-bāzī (Tashkent, Bokhara, Samarkand). Rūmī refers to it in his dīvān as čālīk (Dehḵodā, s.v.). Other synonyms found in the classical dictionaries include lāv, lāva, gūk-čūb, and, in Arabic, qalū and qola.
ʿA. A. Ḥekmat, “Bāzī-e alak dolak,” Yād ḡar 4/9-10, 1327 Š./1948, pp. 71-80.
Cf. ibid., 5/1-2, 1328 Š./1949, pp. 121-33.
N. Jamšād, Bāzīhā-ye bāstānī-e bačahā-ye Eṣfahān, Isfahan, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 75-77 (pel o čofta), 147-48 (sūrī-bāzī), 183-84 (kīlām mīlām).
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, p. 785
H. Javadi, “ALAK-DOLAK,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, p. 785; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alak-dolak-the-game-of-tipcat-played-for-centuries-in-iran-afghanistan-and-surrounding-countries (accessed on 17 May 2014).