Among the many treasures of the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, are hundreds of chess and other games pieces dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries ce. Intricately crafted in a rich variety of materials, including ivory, wood, ceramic, glass, jade and agate, these tiny objects are of enormous historical and artistic significance. They not only mark the evolution of familiar games into their modern forms, but also evoke the imperial palaces, military camps and herders' tents in which they were played over many centuries, from the Sasanian period through the Islamic era in Central Asia, Iran, present-day Iraq and northern India. The chess pieces include both early figural sets and the more abstract forms that later became popular throughout the Islamic world. Dice, pachesi sets and a medieval Arabic treatise on chess complete the collection.
Deborah Freeman Fahid
Thames & Hudson
Country of Publication:
Series: The al-Sabah Collection/Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah
01 June 2018
Foreword by Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah; Acknowledgments; Introduction; Part One: Early Development of Chess and Backgammon Pieces * Essay: Chess and Backgammon in the Iranian World; Catalogue Section A: Figural Chessmen * Part Two: Abstract Chessmen, Backgammon and Other Games Pieces * Essay: Nishapur and Early Islamic Games Pieces; Catalogue Sections: B) Ivory and Bone; C) Wood and Jet; D) Ceramic; E) Stone; F) Rock Crystal and Other Hardstones; G) Glass; H) Other Games and Related Items * Part Three: Chessmen and Other Games Pieces in Museum and Private Collections