Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ramayana Chaukabara


The above gameboard is of Chaukabara crafted in Kalamkari art. The four safe houses and the central 'Home' squares have special illustrations. This was designed by yours truly. 

Instead of having the usual 'X' sign or a flower design in these special squares, I thought, why not have something different so that while playing the game the kids will also learn a story. The first thing that came to my mind was Ramayana. 

So starting from the topmost safe square going clockwise we have Rama, Seeta, Hanuman and Lakshmana while the central square has Pushpaka Vimana. This is 'Ramayana Chaukabara.'

Warm wishes of Rama Navami to all the readers.

Monday, July 20, 2020

30 Stades features our story

30 is a collection of stories that inspire, impact our lives and compel us to think. Even as we need to keep an eye on everyday news that revolves around crime, politics of convenience and economic discomfort, we also need to look at the brighter side of life. And this deeply inspiring positivity comes from people with a vision and enterprises set up with the passion to make a difference.

But, they not just talk about inspiration in all its myriad forms. Which is why, 30 goes beyond, uncovering stories that impact people and society. Many a times, life-changing and interesting stories remain confined to their localities. 30 digs out such tales and take them to readers across the world.

This digital magazine '30 Stades' has feautred us and our story of board games. You can read this well-written article at the url given below.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Snakes and Ladders Shivalinga Design

Since a long time I wanted to design the gameboard of Snakes and Ladders in the form of a Shiva Linga. But the jutting out part of Yoni-peetha on one side of the Shivalinga posed a problem of symmetry.
Image courtesy: Internet
Observe that one side is stretched out and hence the symmetry is lost. Then one day in early 2018, Sri R.G. Singh bought an interesting painting which had 108 Shivalingas within one giant Shivalinga. Looking at it was an eureka moment for me. It showed Shivalinga but without the jutting-out part of the Yoni-peetha. It was as if the Almighty wanted me to design the Shivalinga Snakes and Ladders and had sent me a prototype to base it on.

Tarakamantramayi 108 Shivalinga. Artist unknown. Size: 36x51 cms. Collection & Copyright: Ramsingh's Museum of Mysuru Paintigns, Mysuru. 
This painting is now in the collection of Ramsingh's Museum of Mysuru Paintings.

Based on it, I designed a Snakes and Ladders gameboard having 108 squares. I added two winged angels (from the oleograph print of Shilpi Siddhati Siddalingaswamy's Lakshmi Narasimha) on either side of the Shivalinga. If you observe the central bindi (round red dot) within the tripundra, it has the crescent Moon and Sun together. This is a little addition from my side which symbolises that Sun and Moon together to form the crowning ornament (or the third eye) of Lord Shiva.

I have retained the trefoil flower garland, though made the flowers smaller and have not disturbed the beloved leaf of Shiva - Bilvapatra which crowns the Shivalinga.

The artists of Srikalahasti beautifully rendered my design into their traditional craft form of Kalamkari which is given below.

Personally for me, this product process has been quite satisfying since its inception in my mind as a concept, then the design hurdle faced by me, followed by a chance encounter with an artwork which unraveled the problem, further led to a good design and finally the creation of a beautiful product. It is at these times when I hold the product designed by me that I feel proud.

I have designed a Snakes and Ladders gameboard in the form of a temple, you can read about it here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Playing with the Past - National Conference on Board Games

INSTUCEN, Mumbai had organised a two-day national conference on ancient and medieval Indian board games - Playing with the Past.

8 am, Saturday June 1 — 5 pm Sunday June 2, 2019
Prabodhankar Thackeray Krida Sankul, Vile Parle (E), Mumbai

About 20 speakers from across India were invited to present lectures at the conference. Representing Ramsons Kala Pratishtana and Kreedaa Kaushalya are R.G. Singh, myself (H.S. Dharmendra) and Dr. Dileep K.C.R. Gowda, spoke on different aspects of board games.

L-R: R.G. Singh, Dr. Maya Sitaram, Dr. Dileep K.C.R. Gowda, Dr. V. Balambal and H.S. Dharmendra

June 1st: Dr. Dileep spoke on the etched game patterns found in the temples and basadis of Karnataka

We taught few games after the first day's deliberations

Most of the speakers of the conference

R.G. Singh spoke on the board games invented by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

Dharmendra spoke on the design, marketing and teaching of board games for their revival - a Ramsons experience

Following link will take you to the website of INSTUCEN for more details of the conference.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How to Play Taabla

The above video is an instructional one by Ms. Anisha Kapdi from Ponda, Goa. (I came across this video on Youtube and posted it here. I hope this is not infringing on any copyrights. If it does, I will take it down immediately. Anyhow, I thank the persons behind this video for sharing their knowledge which is wonderful of them)

Ms. Anisha has shown a version of playing the Taabla which she calls as Taabulfale. It is a slightly different version from what I have come across in books.

At Kreedaa Kaushalya, we have introduced the game of Taabla in the craft of Silk Embroidery with pawns either as birds or elephants. The casting pieces (long sticks) are called as 'Kocchu' in Kannada and we have got them crafted at Channapatna.

Here's our game board of Taabla.

Taabla or Taabulfala is a forgotten race game which was played in the Uttara Kannada and Malnad region in Karnataka as also in Goa and south coastal regions of Maharashtra. It is called as Tablan in English.

Game board  - 1
Counters  - 12 + 12
Wooden sticks /cowries  - 4

How to play

* The board consists of 4 by 12 squares i.e., there are four rows of 12 squares in each row. Fig. 1.
* Board is kept between two players and each player has twelve counters. At the beginning both players' counters are kept one each on a square on the row closest to him. In Fig.1, white and black counters belong to Player1 and Player2 respectively and they are placed on the squares nearest to their owners.

* Tablan is played with four stick-dice (called as Taabla Kocchu) which are painted on one side and unpainted on the other side. These stick-dice are flicked in the air, caught back and again flicked twice or thrice before they are finally allowed to fall on to the ground.

* Four cowrie shells can be used in the absence of these sticks.

Score obtained on throw of Stick-Dice or Kocchu
1 plain surface : score is 2 and throw again
4 plain surface : score is 8 and throw again
4 painted surface : score is  12 and throw again
Other throws do not score and sticks are passed to the opponent.

Score obtained on throw of Cowries
1 mouth up : score is 2 and throw again
4 mouths  up : score is 8 and throw again
No mouths up : score is  12 and throw again
Other throws do not score and cowries are passed to the opponent.

* The first move of a counter can only be made on a score of 2, though this score can be split into two 1s if required, and two counters can be moved one square each, instead of one counter moving two squares. Similarly, score of 8 can be split into two 4s and 12 can be split into two 6s.

* The counters move in the directions as follows. For either player, the board is laid out as 1st or home row, 2nd row, 3rd row and 4th or opponent's row. In the home row and 3rd row, the player's counters move right, and in 2nd and 4th rows they move to left. So during a game, opponents' counters move in opposite direction.
* As per Fig.2, the player1's white counters move as follows...   a to l, m to x, M to X, A to L (see dotted arrow in Fig.3). Player2's black counters move in opposite direction (Fig.4).

* The counters can only capture opponent counters when they are on the two central rows, or when displacing them on the opponent's Home row.
* Captured counters are permanently removed from the board during that game.

* Once a counter lands on a square on the opponent's Home row it is locked into that square; it is immobilised and cannot move again during the game. Also, it cannot be captured by the opponent.

* Opponent's home row is locked, one square at a time.

* A counter can move twice during a turn to capture two counters. In Fig.5 the white counter has captured two black ones after it got a throw of 2 which was split into 1 and 1.
* In Fig.6, white counter has reached the last square in its middle rows. Now if it gets a throw of 2, it cannot capture both the black counters because as soon as it captures the first black counter, it is locked and cannot move further. So, either it can capture the first black counter or the second one.

* More than one counter cannot be on one square any where on the board.

* At any stage of the game a player must and should use a throw, unless he cannot move.

* The player locking up most squares on the opponent's Home row wins the game.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Kreedaa Kaushalya 2019 Inauguration

Sri. M.L. Varchusvin S.S. Raje Urs and Dr. Dharanidevi Malagatthi I.P.S. being welcomed with bouquets of flowers.

A game of 'Four Handed Chaduranga'

Dr. Dharanidevi Malagatthi, Principal, Police Training, School, Mysuru, inaugurating the 8th edition of Kreedaa Kaushalya by lighting the lamp.

Sri M.L. Varchusvin S.S. Raje Urs offers garland to the bust of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

Sri M.L. Varchusvin S.S. Raje Urs releases the newly designed Snakes and Ladders game board in Shivalinga form.

Chief guests playing a game of 'Men and Elephant' which is popular as Anay Kattu. At this moment an idea flashed into my mind. I renamed the board game as 'Mysuru Khedda'

Kreedaa Kaushalya 2019
8th biennal of traditional board games of India

Inauguration by
Dr. Dharani Devi Malagatthi I.P.S.
Principal, Police Training School, Mysuru

Chief Guest
Sri M.L. Varchusvin S.S. Raje Urs
Mathadhipati, Sri Manteswamy Matha Malavalli,
Adi-Honnayakanahalli and Kappadi Srikshetra

21 April 2019. Sunday 11.00 am

Venue: Ramsons
In front of Zoo, Mysuru 570010