From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Awithlaknakwe gameboard and starting setup for four players (two teams): Red and Black vs. White and Blue

Awithlaknakwe (or Stone Warriors, or Game of the Stone Warriors) is a strategy board game from the Zuni Native American Indians of the American Southwest. The gameboard comprises 168 squares. Two or four may play, with players identified as North, West, South, and East.

The game was described by Stewart Culin in his book Games of the North American Indians (1907).


The gameboard is a 12×12 square grid with six extra squares centered on each of the four sides, totaling 168 squares. Diagonal lines run through each square (the diagonal lines are called trails; the orthogonal lines are called canyons). Each player has six warriors, and a seventh man named Priest of the Bow.

The historical board was cut into stone slabs, and pieces were small discs of pottery with tops either plain or having a hole in their centers to differentiate ownership. The Priest of the Bow was distinguished from friendly men by being somewhat larger.

Game rules[edit]

Each player starts the game with his six warriors on the six squares nearest to him (or home rank). The goal is to bring one's men to the opponent's home rank, while capturing as many enemy pieces as possible. However, the winning conditions of this ancient game are not completely defined (see "Incomplete rules" section below).

  • Warriors move one square diagonally forward (along trails). Backward moves are not permitted.
  • An enemy man can be captured using the "custodian method"—by flanking it on both adjacent squares along a diagonal. Captured men are removed from the board.
  • The first warrior of each player that is captured is removed, but replaced by the player's Priest of the Bow. The Priest of the Bow can move one square orthogonally (straight right, left, or forward, crossing canyons) as well as diagonally forward like a warrior. It cannot move backward.

Two players[edit]

Players sit at opposite sides of the board; North plays against South.

Four players[edit]

North and West are partners against South and East. Each team has one Priest of the Bow (not two).

Incomplete rules[edit]

The rules described by F. H. Cushing and reported by Culin, and subsequently by Bell and Murray, lack specificity on some points:

  • How a player wins is unclear. One could conjecture that the total number of men that reach the opponent's home rank and the number of men captured are totaled to determine the winner. The same issue applies when four play.
  • When four play, it isn't clear whether partners play a combined set of 12 warriors, or each plays a differentiated set of 6 warriors. (The implication is a combined, undifferentiated set;[note 1] however, identifying a man's "forward" direction in that case is left unclear.)
  • No account clarifies whether the Priest of the Bow replaces the captured warrior on its square, or is introduced at the captured player's home rank or somewhere else on the board.[note 2]
  • It is unknown which player traditionally moves first, how the first player is chosen, and the order of turns when four play.


  1. ^ "The disks are in two sets, 12 plain and 12 perforated [...] In addition, there are two pieces, one plain and one perforated, somewhat larger than the others." Cat. no. 16550, 17861, Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania (Culin 1907:799)
  2. ^ F. H. Cushing's description reported by Culin states: "When a player gets one of his opponent's pieces between two of his own, it may be taken, and the first piece thus captured may be replaced by a seventh man, called the Priest of the Bow, which may move both on the diagonal lines and on [crossing] those at right angles." (Culin 1907:799)


External links[edit]