Hand Carved Ivory Chess Set From India

handcraved ivory chess set photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

19th century Bengali craftspeople found an export market in Britain for decorative chess sets carved from ivory.

handcraved ivory chess set photo by gail worley
handcraved ivory chess set photo by gail worley

The two sides were sometimes carved to represent opposing armies of local soldiers and Europeans. The example seen here, with relatively simple carving is unusual as signs of wear and repair suggest it was used for playing games rather than as a showpiece for display. Hand-carving has produced variation even between pawns of the same side.

Photographed in the British Galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

handcraved ivory chess set photo by gail worley

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