Blind Man's Buff

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One of the oldest and most consistently popular of traditional games, played in the past by adults (especially at Christmas family gatherings) as well as children. In basic form, one player is blindfolded, turned around a few times to disorient him/her, and either has to catch other players or to catch and identify them. Earlier names for the game were Hoodman Blind, and the Hoodwinke Play, as a reversed hood is an effective blindfold, and it is clear from earlier descriptions and illustrations that the game could be much rougher than it tends to be nowadays, with the blindfolded player being buffeted by the knotted hoods of the others. The game is first mentioned by name in the 16th century, although Strutt reprints manuscript illustrations dating from the 14th century which are clearly the same game. Samuel Pepys records in his Diary for 26 December 1664: 'and so home to bed, where my people and wife innocently at cards, very merry. And I to bed, leaving them to their sport and blindman's buff', and the game is also mentioned regularly in literary sources over the centuries. The Opies give references to foreign analogues, and Gomme supplies rhymes which were used in some versions of the game.

Gomme, 1894: i. 37–40;Opie and Opie, 1969: 117–20;Strutt, 1801 (1876): 499–501.

Reference entries