Friday, June 15, 2012

Pagade - Old Lithograph Board

This is an old board of Pagade (Chaupar, Pachisi) in the collection of Ramsons Kala Pratishtana. It is a lithograph on paper, probably printed at the Jagadamba Vilasa (lithograph press) of Mysore Palace which was established by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1794 - 1868) (he was popularly known as Mummadi) within the fort premises. Several plain (non-coloured) prints were available earlier. This copy, though, has been painted and illuminated with gold foil, as recent as ten years back.

Usually, a board of Pagade or Pachisi has four arms in the form of a + symbol; each arm has eight rows with each row having three squares placed side by side. Generally, out of 24 squares on each arm, either 3 or 8 squares sported a cross (depending of the kind of game being played). But in this board of Pagade many squares have figures like a bird, elephant, deer, owl, cow, humans, etc., and few other squares sport legends (instructions) in Kannada script. All figures, iconography and design elements conform to Mysore school of painting. The big square in the centre of the board has a figure of prancing horse within a double whorled lotus. Each petal of the lotus is numbered starting from 1 to 50 and the interesting part is that these numbers are placed according to the Chess Knight's move. This gives a clue that this board has been designed by Mummadi who was obsessed with solving (and finally solved) the Knight's Magic Tour.

If you are wondering what are the figures and instructions, in each square, for...? read on.

Mummadi combined two games into one. He took the concept of Paramapada or Snakes and Ladder and superimposed it on the game of Pagade. He kept the board layout from Pagade and also its safe houses  intact. In remaining squares, he inscribed each with causes and effects. Example: When a player's counter lands on a square which says 'If you kill a frog, you're born as a housefly', then the player should remove that counter and place it on the square which has a figure of flies.

It seems like Mummadi started by modifying the board of Pagade and went on to design newer game boards based on the principles of cause-and-effects. His Shiva Sayujya Mukti Ata and Devi Sayujya Mukti Ata are drawn on the principles expounded in this game.