Chaturange or 4 man chess.

(Text from Masters Traditional Games Chaturanga web-page)

Chaturanga/Shaturanga is an ancient board game produced for sale by Masters Traditional Games:

  • Wooden board with vinyl playing surface
  • Lovely playing pieces with excellent detail
  • Board features storage drawer on the rear for the pieces
  • Instructions included

With origins shrouded in the mystery of ancient Indian history, Chaturanga or Shaturanga is one of the oldest versions of Chess that has ever been found. Indeed it is possible that Chaturanga is the original version of Chess and all the modern two player variants all derive from it but historians continue to argue about this….

Regardless of the historical significance, the game is an interesting challenge for anyone who enjoys games as well as Chess aficionados looking for something different. It is played by 2, 3 or 4 players and although the pieces (Infantry, Calvalry, Elephant, Ship and Raja – King) move in a similar way to modern Chess pieces, which piece you move is chosen by the roll of a dice – which gives a totally new flavour to the game.

A good size wooden board with vinyl playing surface. Nicely decorated with integral rear storage tray for the playing pieces.

The playing pieces are roughly decorated giving them a rustic, authentic feel and design.

This game is hand made by a small artisan craftshop in Spain. Each game is very slightly different – the pieces are not always uniform and and the wood has a colour-washed finish that is designed to give it a vintage look. This is not to everyone’s taste so please do scrutinise the pictures before ordering.

Sir Leonard Woolley’s account.

Sir Leonard Woolley’s account of the four game boards found in royal graves during excavations at Ur, southern Iraq. The excavations where the boards were found took place in the late nineteen twenties and early nineteen thirties. More is known today about the game and boards than could have been know about at the time – even at the time the below text was publish in 1946.

“Four of these boards were found in the graves. All were apparently of the same type, though the decoration of the squares is very different in different examples.

The upper board shown here was very simple, little disks of shell with red or blue centres being set in the bitumen which covered the wood and formed the background. The lower example is much more elaborate, entirely covered with an encrustation of shell plaques inlaid with lapis lazuli and red lime stone and divided by lapis lazuli strips; in other examples the majority of the plaques, and also the white ‘pieces’, are engraved with animal scenes; but all agree in having the coloured rosettes in the middle row of the larger section next to the bridge.

The boards were hollow, boxes, in fact, in which were kept the counters or ‘pieces’, seven black and seven white, and the curious dice, triangular in shape with two of the four points dotted with inlay; three white and three lapis made a set, perhaps three for each player. How the game was played we do not know, but clearly the number five was very important, and one may guess that there were luck and unlucky squares.”

The Book that Started this Site.

Robert Charles Bell (1917–2002) was the author of several books on board games, most importantly Board and Table Games 1 & 2 (reprinted as Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations). This work won the Premier Award of the Doctors’ Hobbies Exhibition, London. He was instrumental in popularizing traditional games, and is acknowledged as one of 11 “principal sources” in David Parlett’s The Oxford History of Board Games.[2]