Painted and Inlaid Game Board

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463

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.

Painted and Inlaid Game Board, Wood; painted, varnished and gilded; with metal hinges

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