View Full Version : Drop Pan

February 11, 2005, 10:47 PM
For people who don't know about this scene is Jamaica. I find it originated in China, another thing brought over by the Chinese.


Lately, there has been renewed interest in an 'ole-time' favourite past time, the game 'Drop Pan', through the new and improved version of the game called 'Cash Pot'. Drop Pan is a game which originated among the Chinese, who brought the game to the Caribbean between the 1920's and 1930's. It is played with tickets numbered from 1 to 36, with each number being assigned one or more meanings.

Over the years, the game has been 'Jamaicanized'. The meanings associated with the figures in the game are not only Chinese in origin, but Afro-Jamaican origin as well. The system whereby numbers are assigned to every part of the human body is said to be Chinese in origin. However, some of the meanings are clearly Jamaican in origin, for example, parson, John crow, coolie and rum.

A 'banker' runs the game. He sells numbers to individuals who wager different amounts of money. Originally, the tickets would be dropped into a pan and a winning ticket selected. There are two draws per day, each play being referred to as a 'pan'. A winning number is considered to be dead for the next two pans, i.e., it is not played for two consecutive draws after it has been played.

Drop Pan is a game of chance and individuals usually decide on their numbers by way of one of three methods, by dreams, by 'rake' and by guessing. A 'rake' is an omen; something that foreshadows what is to come, like a vision. Dreams and 'rakes' are thought to be very symbolic in the Jamaican culture, thus, they are usually interpreted and translated in terms of the numbers and symbols in the game. Guessing involves studying the pattern of the game then making a selection based on how the numbers have been played over a period of time.

Here is a table of some of the Drop Pan meanings that have been collected:

Numbers Meanings
1 Ghost, milk, clothes, rice, anything white
2 Anus, sitting, bed, crab
3 Dead, duck, tongue
4 Egg, blood, wine, breast, sexual intercourse
5 Thief, dirt
6 Strong man, iron, running
7 Married woman, hog
8 Belly, belly woman, hole, bag, ring
9 Married man, cow, ol' dead, brain
10 Small house, car, gaol, small boat, animal pen
11 Boy, dog

12 Head, common horse
13 Knife, cutlass, policeman, butcher, old man, fisherman
14 Mouth, undertaker, wild puss, doorway
15 Weak, rat, running coolie woman
16 oung gyal, grass, tree, bees, anything green
17 Chineyman, drapan player, gambling, brown man

18 Doctor, race-horse, tame puss

19 Silver, coolie man, hair, scale

20 Sick, bed, food, meat, naked

21 Whore, mule, bad

22 Nurse, white woman, pigeon, coffin, bird, queen
23 Black man, monkey

24 Fresh water, medicine

25 John crow, crowd, paper money

26 White man, king, Jesus

27 Fire, accident, gun, madman

28 Road, fowl, pasture, commons, graveyard

29 Parson, bull, ram, male of any species, right foot
30 Fish, flowers, rum, mud
31 Pulpit, kaki, wood, small rope
32 Gold, ****, ripe fruit, beggar
33 Big house, hospital
34 Gyal-baby, soldier
35 She-goat, ******, bible
36 Hong Kong, foreign country, old lady, donkey

Although the game is Chinese in origin, each country in which it is played includes meanings that are reflective of their culture. Thus the meanings differ from country to country. In Trinidad, for example, the game is called 'Wey-Wey' and the meanings are as follows:

Numbers Meanings Numbers Meanings
1 Centipede 19 Horse
2 Old lady 20 Dog
3 Peacock 21 Mouth
4 Dead man 22 Rat
5 Groundworm 23 Big house
6 Belly 24 Queen
7 Pig 25 Morocoy
8 Tiger 26 Fowl
9 Cattle 27 Little snake
10 Monkey 28 Red fish
11 Police, corbeau 29 Drunk man, drugs
12 King 30 House, cat
13 Crapaud 31 Parson wife
14 Money ear 32 Lo-lo
15 Sick woman 33 Spider
16 Jammet woman 34 Blin' man
17 Pigeon 35 Big snake
18 Water boat 36 Donkey

There is an apparent difference in the meanings and their corresponding numbers in Jamaica and Trinidad.

The game Drop Pan has been illegal for a long time. As a matter of fact, the Gambling Law, which was amended in 1926, included the games Drop Pan and Peaka Pow by name as being illegal. Anyone caught selling numbers without the proper license can be arrested and fined.

Despite its illegality, however, Drop Pan is still a very popular game in Jamaica. It is another indicator of the diversity of the Jamaican culture.

February 22, 2005, 01:26 AM
hmmm Chinese origin I knew that. There iwas a drop pan man who drove around and sold numbers about three or four years ago in my community.