This gameboard is painted on both sides with an eight by eight grid on one side for chess (the side on display) or draughts and a backgammon table on the other side. Both chess and backgammon were highly popular board games in the Islamic world and were even the subject of a Persian text composed in the ninth century, Wizarishn i catrang ud nihishn i new-ardashir (Explanation of Chess and the Invention of Backgammon). This late seventeenth-century board is finely executed with a symmetrical arabesque design on one set of squares and a flowering plant on the alternate squares. The flowering plants are carefully painted, and eight different flower varieties can be identified. The board was probably painted, varnished, and gilded over a wooden framework by a craftsman who had been trained to adorn bindings for manuscripts.
[ Greater India Company, Inc., Cambridge, MA, until 1983; sold to MMA]
New York. Asia Society. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," October 14, 2004–January 18, 2005, no. 7:5, 12:15.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," February 26, 2005–May 15, 2005, no. 7:5, 12:15.
Middlebury College Museum of Art. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," September 8, 2005–December 11, 2005, no. 7:5, 12:15.
Doha. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. "Kings & Pawns," March 18, 2014–June 21, 2014.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 41 (1983–1984). p. 8, ill. (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 156-157, ill. fig. 120 (color).
Mackenzie, Colin, and Irving Finkel, ed. Asian Games The Art of Contest. New York: Asia Society, 2004. no. nos. 7:5, 12:15, pp. 8, 88, 149, ill. figs. 7:5, 12:15, (color).
Date: late 17th–early 18th centuryMedium: Container: gold; pierced, repoussé, with cast legs and finials
Goa stone: compound of organic and inorganic materialsAccession: 2004.244a–dOn view in:Gallery 463