Cats' Cradle

While I was playing with my cats and a piece of string. I remember a string game played with two people going back and forth with different plays. Ah cats’ cradle…so after some seaching and no answers:

What is the history of this string game? I can find how to play it but not the history behind it and why is it called cats’ cradle?

From Phrase Finder.

Appears as early as 1768 in English.

Do a Google search on “string games” or “string figures”. They are known all over the world. They apparently go back farther than anyone has been able to trace them.

When I was a kid, I had this book about string games and it said they were Inuit in origin. According to this link the Navajo had them as well.
Funny you say this, I´d forgotten all about it until I saw Atanarjuat - The Silent Runner last week, where they play it. Cool film, btw.

I had a book like that too… Cat’s Cradle, Owls Eyes – A Book of String Games. There was a sequel to it too, though I can’t remember the title. Ah, here it is:

And the other title was Many Stars and More String Games, now that I search around on Camilla Gryski.

Some of the figures are brutally challenging to get right. The book’s filled with figures you can do on your own, and there’s a section on the ‘cat’s cradle’ game involving multiple people.

Don’t ask me why it fascinated me, but somehow it tripped me out that such intricate almost self-stable patterns had been worked out via finger-manipulations of string held in mid-air. Most of them had traditional stories behind them too.

I’m sure there are more authors of this topic, but if you’re interested, those two are a pretty good place to start.

Probably the classic of the genre is Jayne’s String Figures and How to Make Them.