Spinning Tops (con quay)
summertime, groups of children often play with tops along Hanoi’s
streets and alleys. Their enthusiasm and happy laughter attract an
audience, old and young, and remind older viewers of their younger days.
pastime of top spinning still charms city children despite the
popularity of modern games such as bowling, skateboarding, billiards and
In the countryside, most children make their own
tops out of guava, jackfruit, or longan wood. Sometimes they fashion
tops from buffalo horn, though there tops are rare because horns are
harder to obtain and more difficult to shape. City children frequently
use wood scraps left from making furniture to fashion their tops. To
Tich Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is famous for trading tops. A top has
three parts: the head, body and nail. The head is shaped into a
cylinder. The body is a sphere; the string is wound around its upper
part. The nail must be accurately fixed into the bottom point of the
top. Children in the countryside make strings from dry maize leaves;
Hanoi children often use parachute string or cord.
way to spin a top is to “drop” it. The player uses his or her ring
finger and little finger to press the cord or string against the nail at
the knot. He or she holds the top firmly with the thumb and two
remaining fingers so that its nail points upwards. Then he or she
“drops” the top in three rapid steps: first, pushing the top forward
while turning the wrist to point the nail downwards, then releasing the
top; and rapidly pulling the string.
Once the top is spinning,
players can use the string to move the top in the desired direction.
When the top wavers, the player runs the string against the nail and
pulls powerfully in the direction the top is turning. This keeps the top
Although tops are among the simplest of toys,
excited children spinning tops create one of Hanoi’s most vivid and