Trompo: Give it a whirl!

Ever spun a top? A real one made of wood, wrapped in string, and thrown to make it spin? In Chile it’s called a “trompo” and is popular with men of all ages…and certainly not as easy as it looks!

Chilean Trompo, or spinning top  ©M Snook

A spinning "trompo" or top at a typical Chilean fonda

The  sense of Chilenidad—Chile’s national identity—the collection of all that makes up a spirit of being Chilean—is composed of many different aspects, one of which is games, and one of the oldest is the trompo, a simple wooden cone-shaped yet rounded toy with a metal tip that is thrown so that it spins upright. Once you get the basic tossing down, you start with tricks, such as picking it up to spin on the palm of your hand or even throwing it so that it lands—spinning—in your hand without ever having touched the ground.

One year we bought trompos for all the guys in my family—gringos every one—and not a one could make the darn things work. They insisted it couldn’t be done. Step forward non-English-speaking Chilean husband… It was his moment of glory as he wrapped the string and tossed the trompo out onto the driveway and the rest stood drop-jawed like little kids, begging to try it again!


9 responses to “Trompo: Give it a whirl!

  1. Oh, that’s what they look like! I have only heard stories about them, and frankly, I thought they were a myth. They do look like lots of fun. Hubby would love to have one. Anyone know where I could purchase some and have them shipped to the US?

  2. Really? You’ve never seen one? I don’t remember seeing them in the US as a kid, but remember my father talking about them. Here in Chile they are easy to find in any crafts fair and just about everywhere this time of year!
    About shipping? Good question… but if you know anyone traveling to & from, it would be a very easy item for someone to bring back!

  3. You are going to do a post on “Chinchineros”, aren’t you?

  4. A post on Chinchineros? Oh you betcha! I love them! here’s a link to an old post on chinchineros:

  5. My wife is Irish. We once had the chance to see one Chinchinero in Los Angeles, Chile. Ever since then, she literally loses her mind whenever we remember that occassion. She is CRAZY, NUTTY, Loca about Chinchineros. She loves Huasos prety well also.

  6. I brought back a couple tops and no one figured them out-the old pros are nowhere to be found here!

    I also noticed the kites in the background-I will miss seeing the kites flying everywhere-so lovely. Not to mention the string cutting contests 🙂

  7. You’re right! I don’t remember anyone from my generation knowing how to spin a top–that’s what makes them so special here!. And yes, I will definitely do a piece about kites too- very different here than in the US!

  8. Pingback: Cachando Chile is Awesome (Matador Says So) | Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  9. Pingback: Traditional Chilean games for the National Holiday (ball in cup/emboque) | Bearshapedsphere

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