Chess Set
c. 1850
India: Delhi region
On View

The game of chess was invented many centuries ago in India, where it was conceived as a game of war and modeled after the confrontation of armies on a battlefield. The four components of an Indian army are the infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephant brigade. The two opposing sides of this set are depicted as a Sikh army, whose soldiers have beards in addition to moustaches, and an Afghan army. During the Middle Ages, chess was introduced to Europe, where it was transformed into a game of courtly intrigue. The prime minister was replaced by the queen, the elephant brigade by the bishop, the cavalry by the knight, and the chariot or camel brigade by the rook. In Indian chess, the camel is often substituted for the bishop and the elephant for the rook. This particular chess set, known as a “John Company” set, was crafted in New Delhi around 1850 for the British East India Company.

Details

  • Title: Chess Set
  • Date: c. 1850
  • Medium: Ivory pieces, wood board inlaid with ivory
  • Dimensions: Pieces: 3-6 in. (7.6-15.2 cm); Board: 29-3/4 x 29-3/4 x 2-1/4 in. (75.6 x 75.6 x 5.7 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: F.1978.20.01-33.S
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Painted Poems: Rajput Paintings from the Ramesh and Urmil Kapoor Collection

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2004-04-02 to 2004-09-06
Pal, Pratapaditya, American Collectors of Asian Art, fig. 2 p.119
Pal, Pratapaditya, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent, no. 164 pp. 210-211
McArthur, Meher, The Arts of Asia: A Guide to the Materials, Techniques and Styles, p. 121
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 745 p. 334
Pal, Pratapaditya, Marg, fig. 2 pp. 54-55
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