Fairly Easy String Figures


 

Twin Stars

American Indian

1 OA:re T:T mo S pu fLS:re L
2 L mo S pu fTS:OE

Do Opening A. Release your thumbs from their nooses. Thumbs then move over all strings and pick up the far little finger string, removing the little finger noose from the little fingers. (2) Little fingers then move over the strings and pick up the far thumb strings. Do the Osage Extension by transferring the near forefinger strings (before they pass under the palm strings) onto the thumbs, then navahoing the thumbs (remove the bottom string). Next, insert forefingers from above into the triangle that goes around the thumb nooses. Release little fingers and turn forefingers away from you, out and up, with thumbs pointing down
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Osage Diamonds

American Indian

1 OA:re T:T mu S pu fLS
2 T mo nFS pu fFS:re L
3 L mo nFS pu fTS:re T
4 T mo FN pu nLS:OE

Do Opening A and release thumbs. Thumbs then move under all strings, and, with palms facing away from you, picks up from below the far little finger string. Return hands to their normal position with palms facing each other. (2) Thumbs then move over the near forefinger string and pick up the far forefinger strings. Release the little fingers. (3) Little fingers then move over near forefinger strings and pick up the far thumb strings. Release the thumbs. (4) Thumbs then move over the forefinger nooses and pick up the near little finger strings. Do the Osage Extension.

This famous string figure is also known as Jacob's Ladder.

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There are many variations on this figure. The following ones are of interest.

1 OA:re T:T mu nFS gr-de fFS
2 T mu nLS pu-pt fLS
3 re L:L mo FN pu fTS:OE

Do Opening A. Release thumbs. Thumbs move under the near forefinger string, then grab the far forefinger strings, depressing them as far down as possible. (2) Thumbs then move under the near little finger strings, and pick up the far little finger string, pulling it through the forefinger noose strings. (3) Now release the little fingers. The little fingers then move over the forefinger nooses and picks up the far thumb strings. Do the Osage Extension. This figure has four diamonds, but there are no twists, only simple crossings of the strings.
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1 OA:re T:T mu FN pu nLS
2 T mo FN pu fLS:na T
3 F ma-tw FN:OE

Do Opening A. Release thumbs. Thumbs move under forefinger nooses and pick up the near little finger strings. (2) Thumbs move over the forefinger nooses and pick up the far little finger strings. Navaho thumbs. (3) Forefingers move away from you and twist the forefinger nooses 360-degrees. Do the Osage Extension, extending slowly.

 

Six Stars

Navaho (#10S)

1 OA:re T: T mu FN pu fFS mo nFS gr-de nFS
2 T mu nLS pu-pt fLS
3 re L:L mo FN pu fTS:OE

Do Opening A with a long string and release thumbs. Thumbs then move under the forefinger noose and picks up the far forefinger string. The thumbs then move over the near forefinger strings grabbing and depressing them down as far as possible. (2) Thumbs then move under the near little finger strings, and pick up the far little finger string, pulling it through the forefinger noose strings. (3) Now release the little fingers. The little fingers then move over the forefinger nooses and picks up the far thumb strings. Do the Osage Extension. For the best extension hold the thumb nooses with your ring fingers so the strings don't slip and squeeze the forefinger nooses with the middle fingers so they don't slip to put tension on the straight strings.
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This figure was collected by Eric Lee from a Navaho teenager, Thomas Atene, in September, 1983 while paddling in the San Juan arm of Lake Powell near Navaho Mountain. It was previously known but unpublished. Will Wirt also recently collected it in the Amazon.

 

Bagobo Diamonds

Pacific

Three Diamonds

1 OA:re L:F pu TN
2 T mo bnFS pu bfFS
3 T mo tnFS pu tfFS
4 L mo tFS pu bFS:na T
5 ex lP mt lT up, rP ma, rT down

Do Opening A. Release little fingers. Forefingers then pick up from below the thumb nooses (removing from thumbs). (2) Thumbs move over the bottom near forefinger strings and pick up the bottom far forefinger strings. (3) Thumbs move over the top near forefinger strings and pick up the top far forefinger strings. (4) Little fingers move over the top forefinger string and pick up the bottom forefinger string. Release the bottom thumb strings (navaho thumbs). (5) Extend the figure by turning the left palm towards you, thumb up, and the right palm away from you, thumb down. Three other diamond figures can be made in similar manner.

One Diamond

1 OA:re L:L mu-pu TN:F pu LN
2 steps 2-5 above

Do Opening A, then release the little fingers. Little fingers then move under the forefinger nooses and pick up the thumb nooses. This is a bit awkward to do. Try inserting the little finger from below into the thumb nooses, grabbing the near thumb string, releasing the thumbs, returning little fingers back under the forefinger nooses, then extending them up to their normal position. Forefingers then pick up (from below) the little finger nooses. Do steps 2 to 5 above.

Two Diamonds

1 OA:re T:F pu LN:steps 2-4 above
2 ex T up

Do Opening A. Release thumbs. Forefingers pick up (from below) the little finger nooses. Do steps 2 to 4 above. Extend with palms facing each other and with thumbs up.

Four Diamonds

1 OA:re T:T mu FN pu LN:F pu TN:steps 2-4 above
2 ex T up

Do Opening A. Release thumbs. Thumbs move under the forefinger nooses and pick up the little finger nooses. Forefingers pick up thumb nooses. Do steps 2 to 4 above. Extend with palms facing each other and thumbs up.

 

Two Diamonds

Navaho

1 OA:T mu-pu FN
2 T mu-pu LN
3 R mu b&cfTN ma-mo-gr tfFS
4 FM mo-th TN
5 F gr, M ht, bnTS pt-tw onto F
6 re T

Do Opening A. Thumbs move under and pick up the forefinger nooses, removing them from the forefingers. Position them a little above the original thumb strings to keep them separate. (2) Thumbs then move under and similarly pick up the little finger nooses. Again, position above the existing two thumb strings. You now have a top, center, and bottom thumb noose on each thumb. (3) Ring fingers or little fingers now move under, up and through the bottom and center thumb nooses, then away from you and over the top far thumb string to grasp it. They then pull it down and through the lower two thumb nooses. (4) Forefingers and middle fingers now move over and through the top two thumb nooses. (5) Grab the bottom near thumb string with your forefinger and hold it tight to the forefinger using your middle finger. Pull this string through the top and center thumb nooses, twisting it onto the forefingers as you do so. (6) Release your thumbs. You can place this figure over your eyes to make The Mask.
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The Navaho have discovered a way of adding two more diamonds to this figure:

1 Do Two Diamonds:T pu fLS:re L
2 L pu FN:F pu TN:kl
3 T mo-pu nLS:kl:OE

Do Two Diamonds. Thumbs pick up the far little finger string, and release the little fingers. (2) Little fingers pick up the forefinger nooses from below. Forefingers pick up the thumb nooses from below, and keep all strings loose. (3) Thumbs move over and pick up the near little finger strings, still keeping the strings loose, and do the Osage Extension.

This variation was taught to Will Wirt by Jessie Neztsosie of the Navaho Nation, January 2001.

 

King's Throne

Pacific

1 P1:rF pu lPS:lT pu lLN
2 lFMRL mo tTN md-pu-re bTN:lT pu lFMRLN
3 repeat step 2 three times
4 lL pu tlTN:lF pu-pt rPS:re rF

Do Position 1. With your right forefinger pick up the left palm string. With left thumb pick up the left near little finger string, and release the left little finger. (2) With your left forefinger, middle, ring, and little finger, move over the top thumb noose, then down and pick up the bottom near thumb string and removing the bottom noose from the thumb. Now with the left thumb, pick up the noose going around the forefinger, middle, ring, and little fingers. Kept it separated from and above the original thumb noose. (3) Repeat step 2 three more times for a total of four times. (4) Left little finger now picks up the top left thumb noose. With your left forefinger, pick up the right palm string and pull it through the right forefinger noose. Finally release your right forefinger.

 

Sunrise

Klamath Indian

1 OA:F pu TN
2 T pu 2bFS gr-de tnFS mu tfFS mo nLS pu-pt fLS
3 re L:RL mu S gr fTS, re T:T pu tnFS
4 M gr 3FS:re RLN
5 ex T up and sun rises & "sets"

Do Opening A. Forefingers pick up the thumb nooses. (2) Thumbs pick up the two bottom forefinger strings, then grab and depress the top near forefinger string, then move under the top far forefinger string, over the near little finger string, and pick up/pull through the far little finger string. (3) Release little fingers. Ring and little fingers now move under the strings and grab the far thumb string. Release the thumbs. Thumbs then pick up the top near forefinger string. (4) Middle fingers grab all three remaining forefinger strings. Release the ring/little finger noose. (5) Extend thumbs up and the sun will rise and "set."

 

A Well

Pacific

1 OA:F ma-tw-gr nLS pu LN
2 MRL gr-ht fFS
3 M mu-gr-ht nTS:re T
4 T ma-th MN pu bnFDS:re M
5 spread FN, ex T out

Do Opening A. Forefingers move away from you, twist down and grab the near little finger strings, then continue to twist down, back towards you, and up releasing the noose from the little fingers as you do so. There are now two forefinger nooses. (2) With your middle, ring, and little fingers grab and hold tight to the far forefinger string. (3) Relax your middle fingers, leave them in the forefinger nooses, and use them to move under and grab the near thumb string. Release thumbs. (4) Thumbs then move away from you, through the middle finger nooses, and pick up the bottom near diagonal strings going from the forefingers to the far little finger string. Release your middle fingers.

There are a number of variations on this figure, and it is the starting point for others. For example:

 

Fence Around Well

Pacific

1 Do A Well
2 T pu 2nFS:naT:re F&L, kl
3 FMRL mt-th TN, re T:ex F up

Do A Well. (2) Thumbs then pick up the two near forefinger strings. Remove the bottom thumb noose (navaho thumbs). Release forefingers and little fingers from their nooses, and keep all strings loose. (3) Your forefingers, middle, ring, and little fingers move toward you and through the thumb noose using the little fingers to expand the thumb nooses. Release thumbs and extend forefingers up. This figure can be difficult to extend properly. Practice and try different strings.

 

A Worm

Navaho

1 T pu SN:F mo-th TN pu nTS
2 rT ml-pu lnFS
3 O ht-re rbTN:move ON to c
4 MRL mu-th TN mo-th FN gr-pt fFS:re O

Pick up the string loop on thumbs only. Forefingers move over and through the thumb noose and pick up the near thumb string. (2) Right thumb then moves left and picks up the left near forefinger string. (3) Use your teeth to pull out the right bottom thumb noose and remove it from the thumb, and continue to hold this string in your teeth. Move the noose in your mouth so that it is centered in the figure. (4) With your middle, ring, and little fingers move under and through the thumb nooses, then over and through the forefinger nooses, and finally grab and pull through the far forefinger string. Release the string held by your teeth.

 

Breastbone and Ribs

Arctic #12S

1 T pu SN:M pu fTS:L pu fMS
2 OA with F & R
3 T pu nFS:na T:T mo-pu nMS:na T
4 T mo-pu nRS:na T:T mo-pu nLS:na T
5 T mo-pu fLS:na T:L mo-th-pu TN
6 O ht nSS, ex:T ht ON, re O
(To undo: re tLN, ex)

Pick up the string loop on thumbs only, and you'll need a long (#12) string. Middle fingers pick up the far thumb string, then little fingers pick up the far middle finger string. This is like Position 1, with a string around the middle finger. (2) Do Opening A using your forefingers, as usual, and then with your ring fingers. There is now a noose on all fingers and thumbs. (3) Now get ready to do a lot of navahoing! Thumbs pick up the near forefinger strings, navaho thumbs (remove lower noose). Thumbs move over and pick up the near middle finger strings, navaho thumbs. (4) Thumbs move over and pick up the near ring finger strings, navaho thumbs. Thumbs move over and pick up the near little finger strings, navaho thumbs. (5) Thumbs move over and pick up the far little finger string, navaho thumbs. Little fingers now move over the strings and pick up the near thumb string, releasing the thumbs. (6) Finally, grab the middle of the near straight string with your teeth and pull it towards you. Hold this mouth noose between your thumbs and let go with your teeth. To avoid tangles, release the top little finger nooses and extend to undo this figure.

 

Palm Tree

Torres Straits (#10S)

1 OA:P mt FMRL gr fTS
2 ex H out, T up:Toe mo-pu nTS, ex
3 tr rLN to rL:rL pu-pt lbLN
4 tr rFN to rF:rF pu-pt lbFN

Do Opening A using a longer than usual string. Turn palms towards you, and grab all strings except the near thumb string with your forefinger, middle, ring, and little fingers. (2) Extend your hands out in front of you with thumbs up and hook the near thumb string onto your big toe (or have another person grab and hold on to this string), and pull this string out to form the trunk of the tree. (3) Transfer the right little finger noose over to the left little finger without twisting it, and then pick the original left little finger noose using the right little finger and pull it off over the other noose. (4) Do the same with the forefinger nooses, and arrange the strings to form the crown of the palm tree. Pull the trunk further out than is shown in the illustration. 
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Super Palm Tree

(#12S)

1 steps 1-2 of Breastbone and Ribs
2 do tr on all SN as above 

Do steps 1 and 2 of Breastbone and Ribs using a longer string. Do steps 3 and 4 above, but include middle and ring fingers in the transfers. 
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