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Persimmon Games

Diospyros virginiana (common, or American persimmon)

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"No, I ain't doing it for fun," shouted Abe, angrier still; "and nobody but a double-and twisted idiot would ask such a fool question. I was paying so much attention to your dumbed story that I chewed up a green persimmon--one that hadn't been touched by the frost. It's puckered my mouth so that I will never get it straight again. It's worse than a pound of alum and a gallon of tanbark juice mixed together. O, laugh, if you want to--that's just what I'd expect from you. That's about all the sense you've got." 
- John McElroy, The Red Acorn: A Romance of the War, 1883.


PLATTER: This simple game was described by several early authors.  In the North, Platter was widely played by both males and females.  There was a great deal of gambling associated with Platter.  Great Platter tournaments, lasting for days, were played in front of an audience with considerable fanfare, supersition, and ritual.  Basically it is a dice game.  It was played with any number of dice, but usually six were used.  The dice were made of a number of materials but most commonly bone or fruit seeds.  In North Carolina, it was described as being played with persimmon seeds.  Each die had two sides, and each of the sides were colored (the two colors were the same in each die).  They were usually thrown onto a wooden bowl, or platter.  A basic set of rules is shown below.  It should be noted that there were many descriptions from various Native Nations that included variations in die shape, the number of die rolled, what the die are rolled onto, and the final point tally.

Instructions for Playing Platter

The Object: To compete for high score by throwing 6 persimmon seeds and attempting to


Number of Players: Two to Four - originally, two players for each team were allowed to throw.  However, the game lends itself to individual matches between two people. 

Game Components: 1)  6 - persimmon seeds (two-sided die), with each side colored differently (usually black and white were used).


2)  seed tumbler, traditional is a wooden bowl, but you may use a cup.

The Play: 1)  The first player takes his turn by shaking all 6 persimmon seeds in the bowl until well mixed, then tossing them out.  If all six persimmon seeds land with the same color facing up, he/she scores five points.  If five of six persimmon seeds land with the same color facing up, he/she scores one point.  No other combination scores any points. 



2)  The player with a scoring roll, will continue to roll until he/she fails to scrore.  When a roller fails to score, the roll goes to the opposing player.


End of Game: A game ends when a player has reached an agreed total.  100 points is suggested.