Leak Kon Saeng (Scarf Hidden Game)

Leak Kon Saeng or Scarf Hidden Game is a kind of game that ancient Khmer children are often played as a recreation during the nighttime (under the moonlight), during the Khmer New Year season, or in between their free time.

Leak Kon Saeng (Scarf Hidden Game) © Unknown
Leak Kon Saeng (Scarf Hidden Game) © Unknown

On April 13th or 14th, Cambodians celebrate their Khmer New Year. It's customary to participate in activities like "Leak Kon Saeng" as this fun game is also part of the celebration. This game is played using a towel or scarf ready to twist.

Out of all the classic games, this one has the greatest enthusiasts and players. Besides other Khmer games in Khmer New Year, this scarf hidden game may be the most performed whenever youngsters gather together. New years is a popular time for adults to participate in this game.

The objective of this Khmer children's game is also to enjoy and build awareness of the urgent time, be sensible, follow a pattern, and be attentive.

How To Play Leak Kon Saeng?

We use a twisted rope/towel/scarf to play this game, and the rope is formed by twisting each end in opposing ways and folding a scarf in half. And the twisted scarf is securely held in place as we tie it with a knot at each end. In Khmer, it is called Kon Saeng. 

On top of that, the tail of the end knot serves as a grasp and a swinging hook for players. In addition, players may swing to attack any player in the team from lower-back down, as long as the team agrees on it.

Everyone in the activity will take a seat on the ground (normally at the blank field with a plain terrace by putting both hands on their knees) in the shape of a circle facing toward its center. This game can start with five players. Players aren't allowed to leave many gaps from each other while making the circle. Additionally, the circle expands more extensively as the number of participants increases. Boys and girls frequently sit in different places.

When the scarf hider is completing a couple of rounds of seated players, he will notice those who are not paying attention, then place the twisted scarf behind their back instantly and rapidly run around the seated players to discover the area where the towel is hidden.

If you are not aware of the hidden scarf behind your back, the hider will come and take it from you first anyway. Scarf hider will take that hidden scarf to knock on your back and resume the game with a circular run around the players. However, if the sitting player suspects the scarf hider is concealing the scarf behind their backs, he may attempt to strike the person next to them with that twisted towel.

Leak Kon Saeng’s Different Playing Forms

Everyone is familiar with two distinct types of play. Let's dive into the detailed playing procedures of this Khmer childhood game – Leak Kon Saeng.

Form 1

The hider is the first person the team will pick to cover up the scarf. First, the hider walks counterclockwise around the circle from the circle's outside, carrying the scarf hidden behind his back. When the hider turns around during his walk, all the players will sing the Leak Kon Saeng song and clap hands along with the songs.

The song that we usually play during the game is "Leak Kon Saeng Chmar Kham Kaeng Os Loung Os Loung" (meaning you hide the twisted scarf; you drag your feet when the cat bites your feet angles).

This song continues until the scarf hider can sit down. As soon as the hider is ready to sit, he will have secretly draped the scarf behind the back of a different player. After that, he will then return to their original seat after completing their last circle.

Whenever the hider takes a seat or their hands no longer carry the towel, he has already left the scarf behind another player. This is at a time when each participant should confirm around their backs using their hands without using their eyes as a rule determined for the scarf. Furthermore, the player who possesses the scarf is the hitter. He then collects the scarf and continues to attack the person on the right side.

The player sitting at the hitter's right side will run counterclockwise until he reaches his old seat and takes a seat. The hitter can chase this person all around the circular pattern and hit them until they sit back while they are starting to run throughout the circle players.

As a result, the player holding the scarf will now take on the role of the hider, and the game will repeat just like step one. Furthermore, this cycle repeats indefinitely until the group decides to give up.

Form 2

The hitter is designated in a particular perspective in form 2. The first phase in form 1 is very much the same here.

  • If a player cannot discover the twisted towel: 

The first player lowers their scarf behind the second player. If that following player does not find the hidden scarf, the hider will keep strolling around until they encounter that player again. Then, the hider may use the scarf to strike the player.

As a result, the player must now rise to their feet and sprint throughout the circle before returning to their original seat.

  • If players can discover the hidden scarf:

The player may strike the hider till he takes a seat at your initial place when that player finds the twisted towel left at his back and takes it out.

The individual with the scarf may now return to step 1 and repeat the process. As a result, the game goes on until one or both teams decide to call it quits.

If you choose the second form, you have complete control over your movements around the circle. You may even swap between directions while attempting to drop the scarf. For form 1, the general direction should be determined upfront and adhered to throughout the game.

When comparing these two forms, the most significant difference is the player can select to take a seat at the left side of another player that he intends to strike first before the game starts in form 1. For form 2, the hider has the option to leave the scarf at any other player's backside.

Essential Rules of The Scarf Hidden Game

There is a strict rule in this game in which the player could not turn their back or switch their hands backward from the start unless they see the signal from the hider.

The hider has the right and privilege to penalize anyone who ultimately turned their back on concealing, whether by not transferring the scarf or by permitting them to stay with their eyes closed.