Chess Set

Object Name: Chess set

Date: 12th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Nishapur

Medium: Stonepaste; molded and glazed

Dimensions: Largest piece (King) H. 2 in. 5.5 cm
Diam. 2 1/8 in. (4.4 cm)
Small piece (pawn) H. 3.3 cm.
Diam. 2.9 cm

Classification: Gaming pieces

Credit Line: Pfeiffer Fund, 1971

Accession Number: 1971.193a–ff


This nearly complete chess set is one of the earliest extant examples in the world. The pieces are abstract forms: the shah (king) is represented as a throne; the vizier (the equivalent of the queen) is a smaller throne; the elephant (bishop) has two tusklike protrusions; the horse (knight) has a triangular knob representing its head; the chariot (rook) is rectangular with a wedge at the top; and the pawns are faceted hemispheres with knobs.