Spinning out of reckoning

A carpenter by day, Aijaz learnt the art of making spintops from his father.

Natasha Raheel September 04, 2011

"The world is a spinning top," said Aijaz as he works on a lattu, ruing the fact that a vintage wooden spintop with a string is a rare sight on the streets now.

A carpenter by day, Aijaz learnt the art of making spintops from his father but had to hang up his equipment since the demand fizzled out, paving way for the lighter, more colourful and plastic substitute that captured the new generation's attention.

The advent of technology, said Aijaz, made the traditional lattu a mere souvenir, down from an art.

"There used to be a lot of lattu factories in Faisalabad and Sialkot but now most of them are coming from China," said Aijaz.

"I still make them when I feel like it. We used to have events on the streets where our skills were up against it but it's not considered a talent anymore."

He said that children of his village, near Mirpurkhas, still organise a tournament with special emphasis on spinning it on one's palm.

A one-on-one – with a referee counting the time in the middle – still attracts a lot of followers.

A lattu is believed to be the oldest toy with history confirming that it appeared in different cultures throughout. It has now evolved into battle-tops that need complex and well-designed launchers instead of a string tied and released skilfully.

The competition rules have always been very clear: spin it the longest and you win.

However, the change came with the surface it is spun on. The plastic tops come in different shapes and sizes and the manufacturers have introduced the concept of an arena which keeps the tops spinning in a restricted area and leads them to collide.

The competitor whose spinning top breaks the other earns the points.

The World Beyblade Organisation (WBO) held the biggest battle-top event this July, the Summer Spin Showdown in Baltimore. The unofficial sanctioning body offers a ranking system allowing the players to battle other 'bladers' for 'beyPoints'.

With more than 50,000 registered members, events are held throughout the year with points, credits and prize-money ranging from $100 to $500 on offer.

"I take my beyblade very seriously and just spent $200 upgrading it," said a 17-year-old Dan McKenzie. "It's like a community and we have events every week. We even have a yearly convention where hundreds of people come and we suggest what we can do to improve the designs. Through competitions in the convention, we learn different techniques from each other."

McKenzie said that his earliest memory of a spintop was when he was five and he had seen the old, original one in his grandfathers' 1930s photo album.

Looking back at it, he is sure that his grandfather found it as exiting as his beyblade.

The writer is a sports reporter  at The Express Tribune

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.


Muhammad Mobin | 11 years ago | Reply

You have remind me my child hood. very true now this gadget is very rate. now children are more intrested in plastic guns /battery operated vehicles. etc. or most of them keep busy in cartons and videos etc. every era has its own activities and children like them and practice them it is up to the adults who have to guide the next generation and advise them how to take the tradition with the current norms.

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