Asia

China. The 1st set does have exceptional beautiful pieces. Especially the voluptuous lady as white Queen. I have never seen a Queen like that in Chinese sets. Unfortunately it is not a complete set, but the pieces were that nice that I could not resist to buy it. And that Queen!

Next you see 2 Macao bust sets which both are very well carved. The set with faded red pieces is in my opinion the better one. It is one of my favourites.

The other 2 ivory sets are just common antique Chinese sets. Most people are amazed at the puzzle ball chess set, but it is still very common.

The wooden set, as told to me early 20th century, is not that common. I have been told that it would represent the Chinese court, but I'm not convinced about that. Too much warriors!

The bone set at the end is a very common tourist set.

042 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • China, Macao?
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory Q 10.6; pw 6.4; pz 6.7
140 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • China, "Macao buste"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Ivory Kw 9.3; pw 6.7; Kz 9.0; pz 6.6
100 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • China, "Macao buste"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Ivory Kw 8.2; Kz 10.2; p 6.4-7.0
079 01
  • China, Indo
  • Mid 19th century
  • Ivory Kw 12.4; Kz 11.4; p 5.1
053 01
« 1 of 2 »
  • China, Canton
  • Late 19th century
  • Ivory Kw 14.1; Kz 15.3; p 6.4
181 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • China
  • Early 20th century
  • Lime Kw 7.8; pw 4.3; Kz 7.0; pz 4.0
  • Box 32.2×17.4×8.4
  • Board 30.3×29.7
483 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • China
  • 1990
  • Bone K 9.1; p 6.2

India. It starts with a very cute silver enamelled chess set from India. In this form it is rare. Unfortunately it is not in a very good condition. The enamel is coming loose.

In the course of the time I have collected 5 of those "Rajasthan" sets, which are all made for the tourist market and cannot compete with the antique ones. My dating may not be accurate, but it is as is told to me. However you cannot believe everyone. All these sets are in a presentation box, designed to show the pieces for easier sale. In the list you see a tiny and a big ivory one, two normal sized wooden and one bigger wooden set. There exist bigger sets as well, where the figures are full width in stead of these flat ones. In the sets listed here you see full width Kings and Queens at the larger wooden set only, but the other pieces of that set are flat as well.

The last set in this listing is only a half set. It was a gift and the other side was never there. Pieces are crudely carved, except for the elephants which are very nice. The elephant pieces have also a little different colour.

218 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • India, "Jaipur"
  • ca. 1950
  • Enamelled silver K 5.2 and base Ø 3.5; p 3.2 and base Ø 2.8
061 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • India, "Rajasthan"
  • Early 20th century
  • Ivory K 4.4; p 1.9
  • Cassette 34.5×21.1×4.7
030 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • India, "Rajasthan"
  • Mid 20th century
  • Sandelwood + coromandel K 8.2; p 4.2
  • Cassette 40.5×22.8×3.
069 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • India, "Rajasthan"
  • Mid 20th century
  • Sandelwood + coromandel K 8.6; p 3.1
  • Cassette 36.9×20.4×4.0
099 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • India, "Rajasthan"
  • 20th century
  • Ivory K 10.8; p 4.6
  • Cassette 53.3×28.4×5.3
041 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • India, "Rajasthan"
  • 1998
  • Sandelwood + coromandel K 11.8; p 3.9
  • Cassette 50.2×25.9×6.1
036 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • India, half a set
  • 1999
  • Soapstone K 10.1; p 7.6

Indonesia. Rama is the main protagonist or hero of the Ramayana tale. Portrayed as the seventh avatar of god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favourite son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya and his chief queen, Kausalya. He is portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Dasharatha is forced by Kaikeyi, the second of his three wives, to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile with hi wife Sita. With help of Hanuman, Angada and king Sugriva - which were "Varana" what originally means forest man and now has become monkey - Rama kills the evil and powerful demon king Ravana, who abducted his wife Sita, and later returns to Ayodhya to form an ideal state.

All sets listed here, except the 3rd, have the Ramayana as theme. The King is Rama, in most sets sitting on the Garuda, Queen is Sita, Knight is Ravana and Bishop, Rook and pawns are the "Varana" (monkeys).

The theme of the 3rd set isn't clear to me yet. But it probably goes about certain gods and of course the Garuda (Rook).

The quality of the carving of these sets varies greatly. The 1st and 2nd set are carved very well, while the 3rd set and the 1st coloured one are carved moderately and the 2nd coloured and the last one aren't that good. But I have seen much worse too!

These sets, except the 1st one, are made for the tourist market and are found in huge quantities. They come often with a teak storage box annex board as shown at the 3rd and the last set. Sometimes there are legs that can be turned out so that the box can be used as a chess table as well.

The last set does have primitively made disks and dices to play backgammon and checkers. Maybe some other game, because there are 16 disks in each colour. Or is there just one spare?

290 01
  • Indonesia, Bali, "Ramayana story"
  • 1970
  • Sawo + djati K 13.4+14.1; p 7.3-8.0
013 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • Indonesia, Bali, "Ramayana story"
  • 1979
  • Paduk (or sawo?) + coromandel K 10.9; p 6.0
  • Box/board (later period) 38.3×18.6×8.3
343 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • Indonesia, Bali
  • 1980
  • Wood K 11.3; p 4.7
  • Box/board 45.5×22.3×9.0 (closed)
357 01
  • Indonesia, Bali, "Ramayana story"
  • 1980
  • Wood K 12.8; p 6.6
  • Set was listed as from Thailand/Burma
358 01
  • Indonesia, Bali, "Ramayana story"
  • 1990
  • Wood K 9.4; p 4.6
  • Set was listed as from Thailand/Burma
151 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • Indonesia, Bali, "Ramayana story"
  • 1990
  • Paduk K 10.3; p 4.9
  • Box/board 38.0×18.5×8.1

Japan.This older version of a "Kokeshi" doll based chess set is very hard to find nowadays. The colours and patina are very nice at this set, which is one of my favourites.

360 01
  • Japan, "Kokeshi"
  • Mid 20th century
  • Wood K 8.1; p 5.2

Kyrgyzstan.Maybe because Kyrgyzstan was under soviet influence in the period of 1919 till 1991 that  these sets are often indicated as Russian, which is not the case of course. The sets come in several variations, but are very recognizable by their simple abstract forms which are richly decorated with figures in traditional costumes.

138 02
« 1 of 3 »
  • Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
  • 20th century
  • Lime K 15.2; p 7.6
  • Box/board 50.0×25.0×7.0 (closed)

Myanmar. In Myanmar chess has its own rules and initial position. I'm not sure whether all pieces move like our chess. Normal traditional pieces to play Myanmar chess are figural as well, see Myanmar at "To Play With" menu. Here several other sets from Myanmar.

I have to say that it is very difficult to date these sets. I suspect that some of them are aged and actually of a recent date. This is highly suspected at the 1st set (dated 1910 or older) and a bit suspected at the 2nd set (dated 1950). Although these 2 sets could have some age. The other sets are of more recent date, which is most likely accurate.

165 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • Myanmar
  • 1910 or older
  • Lacquer (unpolished) K 9.2+9.6; p 6.3
  • Box/Board 41.5×20.6×8.1 (closed)
305 01
  • Myanmar
  • ca. 1950
  • Wood K 7.0; p 6.0
430 01
« 1 of 4 »
  • Myanmar
  • Late 20th century
  • Wood K 6.8; p 4.2
307 01
  • Myanmar
  • ca. 2000
  • Wood K 8.4; p 7.7
329 01
  • Myanmar
  • ca. 2000
  • Metal K 5.8; p 5.2

Philippines. A friend of mine went to the Philippines in 1978 and in 1980. He bought the 1st set in Baguio. Not sure who did make this set. He bought the 2nd set in an Igorot Village on Luzon. The Igorot tribe is famous for its woodcarving.

448 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • Philippines
  • 1978
  • Wood K 12.0; p 5.5
317 01
  • Philippines, Luzon, by Igorot
  • 1980
  • Wood K 11.7; p 10.3

Sri Lanka. July and August, each year in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka, the "Perahera" (procession) of elephants, "Mohottala" (royal advisers) and dancers takes place in the streets around the "Pattirippuwa". This is where Lord Buddha's Tooth relic is preserved. Then they inform the king and queen that they completed the annual "Perahera" successfully. This is Sri Lanka's biggest cultural pageant and dates back to the time of Sri Lanka's ancient kings.

016 02
« 1 of 3 »
  • Sri Lanka
  • 1997
  • Abachi K 8.1; p 6.2
  • Box/board 39.7×19.9×4.9 (closed)

Thailand. The Eight Immortals are a group of legendary xian ("immortals") in Chinese mythology. Each immortal's power can be transferred to a power tool that can bestow life or destroy evil. This set is a replica in resin. Note that at the dark side there is a double (see picture of pawns at no. 3 and 5), while no. 3 at the light side is OK.

391 04
« 1 of 4 »
  • Thailand
  • 1980
  • Resin K 9.8; p 5.7-6.0

Vietnam.I was just told that this set was Vietnamese, but I cannot be 100% sure. I cannot remember whether I have seen another like this.

191 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • Vietnam
  • 20th century
  • Wood K 6.1; p 5.1