A GEM SET GOLD CHESS SET
A GEM SET GOLD CHESS SET

PROBABLY SOUTH INDIA, CIRCA 1775-1825

Details
A GEM SET GOLD CHESS SET
PROBABLY SOUTH INDIA, CIRCA 1775-1825
Thirty two pieces, set with rubies and emeralds, the base of each piece in plain gold with undeciphered South Indian script
Highest piece 1 7/8 ins. (4.7 cm.) high; smallest piece 7/8 in. (2.1 cm.) high
Exhibited
The Miho Museum, Koka 2016, pp.58-59, no.31
Grand Palais, Paris 2017, pp.206-07, no,156
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 2017, p.217, no148
The Palace Museum, Beijing 2018, pp.238039, no,152

Brought to you by

Rahul Kadakia
Rahul Kadakia

Lot Essay

The ancient game of chess has been played in India since the sixth century. This set represents the opposing teams through opulent gem set pieces with rubies and emeralds. The gem-settings and the presence of an undeciphered script on the base suggest a South Indian attribution for the present pieces. The script under the base of these pieces is similar to Telegu. If so, then a Hyderabad attribution would be appropriate. Such an attribution becomes more probable as there was a tradition for the Nizams of Hyderabad to marry Ottoman princesses. An earlier gold Ottoman chess set from the sixteenth century in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum has similar shaped pieces decorated with turquoise inlay and rubies (Rogers and Koseoglu, 1987, no. 121a, p.207 and London, 2012, no. 250, p.382). The similarity between our set and this earlier example could indicate a direct influence from the Topkapi example.
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