Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Family That Plays Together Stays Together

India is mostly an agrarian society where large households made up of 15 to 20 individuals is a normal occurence, also 3 to 4 generations live under the same roof sharing every resource and also contributing to the agricultural activity which is labour intensive. This pattern of shared living is also followed in cities.

If you have ever wondered how these large families amuse themselves, here is an answer. The regular game of 'Vimanam' is played akin to 'Panchi' by two individuals with 6 pawns each and 6 cowrie shells. Now how would you accommodate an entire household to be a part of the game which is played by only two persons? Simple, improvise the game so that the whole family is a part of fun.

At recently concluded 'Kreedaa Kaushalya' we had a game parlour where children and adults were allowed to play Indian board games; we also taught different games to every body who was interested.

On the third day of exhibition, in walked a group of 3 ladies and 5 kids. From the interaction amongst themselves it was evident that they were a part of a single family perhaps first and second cousins included. The person calling the shots was a lady bedecked in jasmines and jewels wearing an ornate saree; it seemed like the group had just returned from a wedding celebration.

The boisterous group learnt a few games and was interested in sharing with us one of their own. Quickly a game board was sketched on the back of a calendar print using a scale and pen by Mrs. Vijaya Kumari.

The game was almost like 'Vimanam' except the final stretch of tracks which was curved (this part is straight in Vimanam); this difference was just aesthetic and in no way affected the play. Hence the group picked our board of Vimanam which we had got designed colourfully in Kalamkari craft. 12 pawns each were placed in both homes; a pair of stick dice started to roll.

To get an idea of the game, I suggested Dr. Dilip to join the group, an elderly lady, who was teaching her grandson a game of mancala, volunteered to join the group to equalise the number of players on both sides. Soon enough a middle aged couple, relatives of Mrs. Vijaya Kumari, arrived and promptly joined the game.

The whole group was divided equally into 2 parties such that they sat encircling the board with alternate persons in the circle belonging to one party. Most aggressive within was the leader of that party, by default, who decided the moves of party's pawns. Though one moved the pawns, everybody got a chance to roll dice. The dice started moving from one person to next going round in the circle and so did the pawns which raced along the single track of the game board which met and bifurcated 3-4 times. Large number of pawns (12) on each side ensured that the game's duration stretched long.

The game took almost 2 hours to finish and later I learnt that it was called 'Aeroplane' which is nothing but the anglicised 'Vimanam'. It was at this juncture that Raghu suggested that we rechristen the game as 'Pushpaka Vimana' which is the mythological flying machine used by lord Rama to travel from Lanka to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana.

This mean-machine is reputed to have an ever expanding seating capacity such that for all persons included one extra seat remained vacant.

At our next exhibition of Kreedaa Kaushalya in the summer of 2009 we intend to introduce this game to visitors.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

You Said It...

In the annals of the game board history Mysore occupies a prominent place as a centre where game boards, pawns and dice were manufactured, this is attested by the fact that major museums across Europe and America have beautiful specimens credited to the province of Mysore and its rulers Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar and his successors.

From a very long time there is a marked fall in the manufacture of these artefacts due to the fact that it is commercially unviable and very few people know the art of play. Ramsons Kala Pratishtana has involved itself in the endeavour of promoting these two traditions - gaming and craft.

To revive any languishing art or craft tradition is a very expensive proposition due to the fact that almost everything involved with the tradition has to be researched, reworked and revitalised and presented in the present context which involves precious manpower, energy, time and finance.

It was with the intention of preserving this cultural heritage that RKP has presented the second edition of Kreedaa Kaushalya.

Following are some rave reviews by visitors to the exhibition.
  • "A step towards preserving ancient Indian games and culture."- Dr. B.R. Subramanya, Mysuru.
  • "Gives us an idea how people in the past used to amuse themselves."- N. Puneeth, National University of Singapore.
  • "Great effort - can only imagine the pains taken."- Ravi Cavale, Bengaluru.
  • "Very commendable effort. Would like to work with you to take this forward."- Rustam Vania, Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bengaluru.
  • "Very impressed. Proud that you are based in Mysore."- Dr. Prashanth Rao, Mysuru.
  • "Brilliant idea and very well organised."- P.V. Srilatha, Mysuru.
  • "Really well researched and produced show."- Suniti Salam, Researcher on traditional textiles, Mysuru.
  • "A very genuine effort in conserving some vignettes of our heritage and culture."- T.S. Satyan, Ace photographer, Mysuru.
  • "Awesome! I could sit for hours here... Now I know that atleast SOME part of history is fun!!!"- Sharanya Rao, Mysuru.
  • "It is a pleasure to visit Ramsons. There is always something new, innovative and unique. Please keep it up."- Parsram Mangharam, Author, Ravi Varma The Prince Among Painters.
  • "A well researched project which deserves appreciation."- Mangala Narasimhan, Crafts Council of Karnataka, Bengaluru.
  • "A good attempt to trace our heritage."- Prof. J. Shashidhar Prasad, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Mysore.
  • "Excellent! Very unusual and and unique experience."- Sushma Manjunath, Producer, Kasturi Channel, Bengaluru.
  • "It was really nice seeing such wonderfully crafted games which one remembers playing many years ago. Brings back beautiful memories."- Sharada Nagendra, Bengaluru.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Board Games - A Child's Play

Summer vacations are on, cartoon shows on television are the most favourite and preferred pastime for kids these days as I see my nephews glued to one or the other shows on the idiot box. That was not so a decade or two back, summer meant exams followed by loads of fun in the form of indoor and outdoor games and sports.

Since last eight days the Kreedaa Kaushalya exhibition has been successful in attracting lot of kids. Children are enthralled seeing varieties of board games with colourful pawns, dice and cowries to play with.

Bhavya, here, liked Aligulimane (Mancala). Oblivious to the surrounding he started sowing fourteen pits with cowrie shells round and round.

Little Shakti, dressed in her best was intrigued by the richly painted chess men which looked like two armies marching forward. She was hesitant to touch them and rather preferred appreciating them from afar.

Yash, in blue shirt, is a kid from the neighborhood who comes daily to play with his cousins at the game parlour in the exhibition. He is filling cowrie shells into one of the beautiful mancala boards crafted out of brass in lost wax process.

Little Anagha was disturbed by the way pawns were arranged on this game-stool sporting a version of Goats & Tigers game. She diligently went about removing pawns from not only this game but all others too.

Ayush, here, loves to play chess and when he saw this beautifully crafted wooden chess men painted with 18 karat gold leaf could not take his eyes off. He started nagging his parents to buy the set for him. He had to settle for a humble board of Snakes and Ladders handpainted on cloth.

Younger generations are growing up ignorant of the rich gaming tradition of our land. They play and love Ludo but do not know that its predecessor is the Indian game - Pachisi or Pagade. Kids love to climb up the ladders and slide down the snakes in Snakes and Ladders but are unaware of the fact that it is the European version of the original Indian game 'Paramapada'.

The motto of Kreedaa Kaushalya is to reinvent these games in a new avatar, present it to the public and create awareness about the gaming tradition which lies buried under layers and layers of time.

Come, rediscover our games, understand our roots.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to Play Goats and Tigers

Adu Huli or Goats and Tigers was once a very popular game as we find this game pattern etched on stone floors of many old and ancient temples. The above game pattern is found on the parapet inside the mahadwara of the Chamundeshwari temple atop Chamundi Betta (hill) in Mysuru.
Following is the design given by the design team at Ramsons Kala Pratishtana for the game board of Adu Huli to be hand woven in Navalgund dhurry.
Adu Huli (Goats & Tigers) is a hunt game played by two players. One player gets three tigers while the other controls the flock of sixteen goats.

How to play:

Pawns (either tigers or goats) should be placed only on intersections of lines (shown by red dots in Fig. 1)

During a turn only one coin has to be played.At the beginning tigers are placed at three points as depicted by T in yellow circles in Fig. 2.

One goat is placed on any open point on the board such that it is safe from tiger’s attack.Next one of the tigers is moved to its adjacent open point. All goats are introduced one by one on the board one each during its turn. (i.e., one goat is placed on a point, next one tiger moves, next one more goat is placed on a point, next a tiger moves, next one more goat is placed on a point and so on).

All goats have to be introduced on the board before a goat starts moving.

If a tiger ‘T’ encounters a lone goat ‘G’ with a open point just behind it, then the tiger jumps over the goat to the open point and takes out the goat from the board as shown in Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 below.

Tiger cannot jump over a goat if there is no open point behind the goat as shown below in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6.

Tiger can jump only once during its turn and does not have multiple jumps during a turn.

A goat that has been taken out of the board by a tiger is permanently out of the game and cannot be reintroduced on the board during that game.

After all goats are introduced on the board, goats start moving.Only one goat can be moved to its adjacent open point during its turn.

Goats cannot jump over anything.

Tigers cannot jump over another tiger.Goats should avoid getting jumped over by tigers and try to surround tigers such that they cannot move as shown below in Fig. 7 and Fig. 8.

Tigers try to take out as many goats as possible and avoid getting tied down by goats.

Goats try to tie down all tigers rendering them immobile.

Lines denote the path of movement. Goats and tigers should always move along the lines. Movement of a pawn between adjacent points is possible only when the points are connected by a line. See Fig.9 and Fig. 10 given below for wrong and correct movements.

Game ends when either tiger takes out more than 6 goats or goats manage to immobilise all tigers.


* Tigers win if they take out a minimum of 6 goats.

* Goats win if they immobilise all three tigers.

Benefits: This helps develop strategy and concept of team work by teaching that even though weak, if united, one can vanquish the stronger enemy as a team.

Game in Well

Our field work is mostly on a week day as on a working day, usually there are less number of visitors to temples. However, the major shrines with exquisite craftsmanship continue to attract a large number of devotees and hordes of tourists on all days.

On a chilly winter morning we along with a bus-load of tourists waited at the massive doors of an ancient temple for priests to open huge padlocks. A few minutes later I saw a group of four priests alight from a car, all of them draped in freshly laundered crisp white dhotis. The upper torso was bare and the sacred thread across the chest still had a tinge of turmeric. The freshly applied markings on the forehead proclaimed their sect.

One amongst them carried a three feet stout stick hoisted on his shoulder, the tip had a metal cap and several rings from which dangled half a dozen keys of various sizes. The smallest one was about ten inches in length and he started opening locks, the primitive security apparatus was in place to guard the priceless temple complex - the jewel of the Hoysala dynasty - the Sri Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Hassan district of Karnataka.

The sprawling temple premises housed about half a dozen independent shrines dedicated to the presiding deity Chennakeshava - the handsome Keshava and his consorts Soumya Nayaki and Ranga Nayaki and also the principle deities worshipped by the followers of Sri Vaishnava sect.

The stellar shaped shrines which looked like gigantic jewelled caskets dotted the sprawling twelfth century complex which was built by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD.

The priests walked towards the well, unlocked grills at its mouth and drew water to wash their feet, the tourists rushed towards the central shrine and we began our hunt for games. Within minutes Raghu spotted a beautiful Aligulimane (Mancala) board in the middle of nowhere which was a bit surprising as it was the most uncomfortable location to sit and play, however we continued the search and located a dozen game boards within half an hour.

At regular intervals priests carrying brass pitchers appeared from the shrines and drew water from the well for the ritual bathing of the deity.
Dilip who was near the water source dug into his pocket and flung a coin into the water and peeped into the well. Lo and behold! A stone block in the sidewall had a 'goats and tigers' game etched on it.
The well-preserved game board which once upon a time must have been used for play was forever in disuse adorning the humid interiors of a sacred water body.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inauguration of Kreedaa Kaushalya Exhibition

The ten day exhibition of Kreedaa Kaushalya was inaugurated by linguist Prof. Lingadevaru Halemane on Friday 16 May 2008 at 6 pm at Pratima Gallery, in front of Zoo, Mysuru, in the presence of Prof. R. Vasantha of Anantapur, journalist Krishna Vattam and Ramsons Kala Pratishtana's Chairman D. Ram Singh.

L-R: Krishna Vattam, Lingadevaru Halemane, R. Vasantha and D. Ram Singh

The exhibition features about 20 different games which have been crafted using traditional craft techniques from different parts of India. Game boards, pawns and dice in cloth, metal, wood, bone, stone and terracotta are on display.

Following are a few glimpses of this exhibition...


Paintings and oleographs by fifteen artists adorn the walls.

There is a game parlour for children to learn and play these games.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In the Tiger's Lair

Nanjangud, about 28 kilometres from Mysuru is known for its Nanjundeshwara temple. The gigantic mahadwara (gopuram) of this temple is a handsome structure with beautiful stucco work. Its annual pancha rathotsava - drawing of five chariots (the highest among the five stands 5-storeys tall) is an important event on the almanac of devout shaivites of this region.

Further south from Nanjangud towards Chamarajanagar is a small village of Hemmaragala. Its sole claim to fame is the ancient Sri Santana Venugopala Swamy temple.The place is referred to as Kaundinya Govardhana Kshetra as it is believed that sage Kaundinya Maharshi performed penance here in dwapara yuga (about 5000 years ago).

The beautiful chlorite schist image of Venugopala in the sanctum sanctorum is a work of art. Innumerable miniature cradles are festooned to strings strung across pillars in the navaranga of the temple by faithful devotees as a thanksgiving for the fulfillment of their prayers for the birth of a progeny.

As we step out of the temple’s main entrance, we enter a big hall with tiled roof supported by wooden beams and rafters. The cement flooring here is marked with half a dozen game boards. The well used glistening floor and shallow pits of game boards give away the fact that the place is a haunt of gamers.

Soon enough a few school going children passing by walk in and very intently watch us photograph the incised floor. Word of mouth spreads; alerted by the commotion, arrive half a dozen villagers to inspect as any visitor is easily identified in this close knit rural setting. They were surprised by interest shown by me to learn the games; as soon as my box of pawns and dice, which I always carry on field visits, is opened there is palpable excitement in the air. On my invitation a teenage boy comes forward to play but he gets restrained by elders. An unwilling Rangaswamy, a man in his fifties is decided to be my opponent. He is cajoled by Sri N. Veeraraghavan, the temple priest, to accept the challenge; usually priest occupies an important position in rural society and his words are followed with regard.

It looked like the honour of the entire village was at stake, a confident sounding Rangaswamy picks four larger pawns and passing me forty-eight smaller ones declares that he, the tiger, would like to hunt goats. First ten minutes are spent introducing goats from corners. Despite a few careful moves by me I was cornered and Rangaswamy claims his first victim, within next two moves he fells half a dozen goats in succession, the onlookers rejoice. I desperately try to save my flock but the predator lurking large keeps me on my toes, a momentary lapse claims three more goats. I am convinced that I have a formidable opponent well versed in the stalking moves of the big cat; children burst into a loud round of applause as another goat succumbs and we end the game.

Rangaswamy's folks are delighted by this win. It is in the conversation, later I learnt, that this village has several experienced gamers who play for hours at a stretch during spare time when agricultural activity is at its bare minimum.

Life Imitates Art

In rural households across Karnataka our team of researchers found innumerable game boards tucked away in attics, lofts and lying amidst rarely used utensils. When we generally enquired if any person knows how to play, it always turned out that an elderly woman in the household had played the game long ago as an young bride and later on the boards sat abandoned in the dusty corners of the house.

In the monsoon of 2007 we (Raghu, Dr. Dileep and myself) had been to Biligiri Rangana Betta (BR Hills) which is a couple of hours drive from Mysore. While returning we stopped enroute at a picturesque village Ummattur in Chamarajanagar district. What caught our attention was the beautifully carved and colourfully painted wooden pillars and doors of traditional houses.

Huge houses with a frontage of several feet which once upon a time might have housed very large joint agrarian families now had been partitioned several times and each dwelling had a frontage reduced to ten or twelve feet and different colours of their exterior paints indicated the boundaries with shared walls.

Walking into the village square we stood in front of the Urukaatheshwari Devi temple trying to locate game boards on the floor of that ancient structure. To our dismay, walls and floor had recently been fixed with glistening ceramic tiles; even the robust granite pillars were not spared. There was no chance of finding a game board there because if there were any they now lay buried under ceramic tiles.

Disappointed, as we went around the temple a scene caught our attention. It was an octagenarian lady Chemmaramma teaching three young girls a game of Aligulimane (mancala). Raghu wasted no time to capture the scene on his camera.

It was almost a week later, when we were reviewing the photographs, that Dr. Dileep remarked the similarity of this snap with the painting which G.L.N. Simha had painted a few months earlier.

Voila! It was the case of life imitating art.

Raghu has written following Kannada rhyme for the above painting.You can also see it in his blog here.

ಬೇಸಿಗೆಯ ಮಜಾ

ಇದೋ ಬಂತು ಬೇಸಿಗೆ

ರಜವಾಯಿತು ಶಾಲೆಗೆ

ಸಖತ್ ಮಜಾ ನನಗೆ

ಹೊರಟೆ ಅಜ್ಜಿ ಮನೆಗೆ

ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು ಕವಡೆ, ಅಳಿಗುಳಿ ಆಟಿಗೆ

ಸೀಟಿದೆ ಪತ್ತಾ, ಕರುಗಳ ಬಗೆಬಗೆ

ಖಾಲಿಮನೆ ಪಿಗ್ಗಿಗಳು ಅಜ್ಜಿಗೆ

ನಕ್ಕಿದೆ ಮರಳಿ ಆಕೆಯ ಮಡಿಲಿಗೆ

An elderly lady is seen this picture teaching her grand daughter nuances of the game at the game parlour during Kreedaa Kaushalya exhibition.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rosewood Inlay Game Table

The inlay tradition of Karnataka is largely concentrated in Mysuru, some of the best examples of which may be seen at Gumbaz at Srirangapatna. The doors of the Amba vilas palace in Mysuru too have fine inlay work.

The technique of this work is, a paper tracing of the design is pasted on a card board and the templates which are cut by chisel are placed on the selected plank and the outline traced and cut by a bow saw, the marked position on the main background is scooped and the pieces fixed with glue to form the design. The excess layer of glue and wood is flattened using sand paper and a fine coat of colourless polish is applied.

The designers at RKP have used the traditional inlay technique with geometric floral patterns to create the above table with Aligulimane or Mancala pits.

Design : R.G. Singh, RKP

Crafts person : Ismail, Mysuru

This panel depicting HH Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar playing navagraha pagade aata with his consort has been created using the marquetry technique, which is a recent development to this craft tradition.

Design : Kamalesh, Bengaluru

Crafts person : R. Puttaraju, Mysuru

Game Boards in Kasuti Embroidery

The Kasuti of Karnataka state seems like an all embracing world, the motifs range from architecture to a cradle, from an elephant to a squirrel, the tulsi platform, nandi - the sacred bull etc.

Stitches in kasuti have to be vertical, horizontal or diagonal and the lines or the motifs have to be completed on the return journey filling the blank partitions. It is done in two types of stitches, the gavanti line (double running stitch) and murgi (zig zag) done within the darning stitch, akin to gavanti. In both, the two sides are neat and identical. Neyge (weaving in kannada) is the ordinary running stitch which is used for large designs and the overall effect is of a woven design by weft threads.Kasuti shows up best on thick materials against dark shades.

Excerpts from Handicrafts of India

by Kamala Devi chattopadhyaya

The designers at RKP have used raw silk cloth and 80gms of silk cloth with woven borders incorporating both gavanti and murgi technique to create these embroidered game boards.

Designer : H.S. Dharmendra, RKP

Crafts person : Rekha Nagaraj, Mysuru

Navalgund Game Board Dhurry

Navalgund is a small town 40 kms from Hubballi (Hubli) in Dharwad district of Karnataka. The highly decorative and intricate designs of the colourful Navalgund dhurry is its individual signature.

The main designs are geometrical in juxtaposition, the outlines are in delicate tracery with floral motifs with a bird or animal incorporated. The weaving is done on pitlooms with 'punja', a metallic countrivane almost like an extension of the outstretched palm used to pull back firmly and fix in place the weft yarn, while weaving. The dyed yarn is shuttled by hand up to the point where the coloured weft is required; the design is prepared by interlacing of weft with warp yarns, different effects are produced by using threads of varying thickness, thin for warp and thick for weft.

Excerpts from Handicrafts of India
by Kamala Devi chattopadhyaya

Once upon a time Navilu-gunda meaning 'the peacock grove' was home of the flamboyant national bird of India - Peacock (Navilu is peacock in Kannada); the 'char-mor jamkhana' with four stylized peacocks woven around the pachisi game board is a tribute to the exotic bird.
Although the end users are predominantly Hindus these works of art are created by women weavers from the Muslim community. Till not very long ago a jamkhana (dhurry) with a pagade aata was a part of the bridal trousseau and also pledged to secure loans.
The team of designers from RKP have incorporated traditional patterns of saada phool - geometrical floral form, pagade aata - the central pachisi board, char mor - four small peacocks and bada mor - a single large peacock in various permutations and combinations to create these traditional floor coverings.

Designers : R.G. Singh & H.S. Dharmendra, RKP
Crafts person : Farzana Begum, Navalgund

1. Deccan Herald article
2. Blog post

Game Boards in Bidri Craft

Bidricraft is a well known craft of 'Koftagiri'- inlaying of a light metal on a dark one, technically known as damascening, here the dark metal plate is an alloy of zinc, copper, tin and lead. Zinc in bulk forms the base, the design is drawn with a free hand on the surface, then engraved with a sharp chisel in varying depths as demanded by the design. Then silver wire or pieces of sheet are embedded on the chiselled patterns by hammering, finally the artefact is dipped in a hot solution of saltpetre containing clay and ammonia to turn the zinc into a lovely velvety black and the silver retains its white brilliant colour.

Excerpted from Handicarfts of India

by Kamala Devi chattopadhyaya

The craftsmen of bidriware concentrated in Bidar and adjoining areas make a variety of objects like boxes, ashtrays, stationery items, vases etc. The team of designers at RKP have designed these game boards using following techniques used by the artisans.

Tarkashi - inlay of wire

Tainishan - inlay of sheets

Zarnishan - low relief

Aftabi - cut out designs on overlaid metal sheet

In the game board of 'Elephants and Men' (the board in the centre of the picture), silver wires were thinned to the required girth by drawing them through diamond-drilled holes in the steel plate and then inlaid into the outline of the chiselled game pattern using tarkashi technique. The border has been beautifully inlaid in the famous 'phuljari' design.

Design : H.S. Dharmendra, RKP

Crafts person : Abdul Hakeem, Bidar

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Channapatna Lacquerware Pawns

Channapatna in Ramanagara district of Karnataka holds an honoured place in the lacquer ware world. It is an old industry practised by craftsmen called chitragars and also has a sizeable number of craftspersons belonging to the muslim community.

Haalay is the main wood used here as it is extremely close-grained, moderately hard and ideal for turning.

A very old speciality of Channapatna is a complete set of miniature cooking utensils and kitchen ware. The modern innovations include telephone sets, planes, engines, trains, trucks, rattles etc. Popular dolls include snake charmer, vegetable vendor, lady with a water pot, set of music makers playing various musical instruments.
Excerpted from Handicrafts of India
by Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya

The design team of Ramsons Kala Pratishtana (RKP) has used the traditional turning technique of Channapatna to create these stunningly beautiful pawns using following organic colours.

Yellow - Turmeric
Red - Kanchi Kumkum + Allerthin
Orange - Kanchi Kumkum
Green - Indigo + Turmeric

Design : H.S. Dharmendra, RKP

Crafts person : B. Venkatesh, Channapatna

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Four Handed Chaduranga

Four handed Chaduranga is the predecessor of the modern Chess. This is played by four players unlike two players in the conventional Chess and also involves the component of chance in the form of a single stick dice or daala.

Four players form two teams of two players. Player-1 plays together with player-3, and player-2 plays together with player-4. Each player gets 8 chessmen which are as follows.

Power of Movement:
  • The Raja: Moves orthogonally or diagonally one square in any direction (like the move of king in regular chess)
  • The Elephant: Moves orthogonally forwards, sideways or backwards any number of unoccupied squares, but cannot jump over a piece (exactly like the movement of rook in regular chess)
  • The Horse: Moves one square orthogonally and one square diagonally and can jump over other pieces (like the movement of knight in regular chess)
  • The Ship: Jumps one square and lands on the second square diagonally (for example: the boat of player-1 is on a1, it jumps over b2 and lands on c3.)
  • Pawns: Move one square orthogonally forwards, unless they are making a capture by moving one square diagonally forwards (just like the move of a pawn in regular chess)
Initially arrangement of four armies is as shown below.

Rajas, elephants and horses are major pieces while boats and pawns are minor pieces. Minor pieces can capture each other but cannot capture major pieces.

The throw of a daala (stick die) determines which piece can be moved. The daala has four sides, showing 1, 3, 4, and 6 dots. Its values determine which piece to move and it is as follows:
1 dot = move the boat (bishop)
3 dots = move the horse
4 dots = move the elephant
6 dots = move the Raja or a pawn
You must make the move if there is a possibility, even if it means to put a piece at stake. You must pass if you don't own the piece anymore or if you cannot make the move.
A player cannot move his pieces after his own Raja is captured. However, should the partner capture an enemy Raja, then the immobilized party can re-introduce its Raja, and become mobile again. The immobilized player can introduce his Raja on an empty square anywhere on the board. In this case he has to miss his next turn (he cannot roll the die in his subsequent turn). Note that a Raja that has been captured twice cannot be introduced again.
Pawns promote to any of the four types: elephant, horse, boat, or Raja. Piece-type is determined by the promotion square. Hence, a pawn of player-1 gets promoted to boat on a8 and h8, horse on b8 and g8, elephant on c8 and f8, and Raja on d8 and e8.
One can capture one's partner’s pieces except the Raja. Sometimes, it may require to put one's own piece at risk, provided that one's partner has the intermediate move, so that he can remove the threatening piece. It is a common tactic to take a chance and put a piece on a threatened square, hoping that the dice will not allow the opponent to catch the piece. It is a highly cooperative game. Unlike the king in regular chess, the Raja is not a passive piece. It is often possible to attack with the Raja.
Winner: The team that captures both opponent Rajas wins.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Inscribed Game Pattern - Chamundi Foot Hill

Inscribed game patterns are found on temple floors, on the banks of rivers, in large private mansions and travellers' shelters all over South India. In the course of field work geometrically perfect patterns used to play games have been found at many important places of pilgrimage. I begin with the field work at the well known backdrop of Mysuru - Chamundi Hills.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kreedaa Kaushalya 2008

Ramsons Kala Pratishtana
cordially invites you to

Kreedaa Kaushalya
an exhibition and sale of traditional games of India

16 - 25 May 2008
10.00 am to 7.00 pm

Venue: Pratima Gallery
Ramsons House, In front of Zoo, Mysuru 570010
T: +91-821-2449121. M: +91-9880111625