Early ivory chess piece
Lot 143
A bone chess piece, possibly Samakand, 7th/8th century,
Sold for £2,500 (US$ 4,202) inc. premium
Lot Details
A bone chess piece,
possibly Samakand, 7th/8th century,
in the form of a horse (with half barding) and rider with a flat head,
3.4cm high, 2.5cm wide.

Footnotes

  • An early bone chess piece showing similarities (both in form and size) to the ivory examples discovered at Afrasiab, Uzbekistan in 1977 by the archaeologist, Professor Jurij F. Burjakov, with a possible attribution to the 7th/8th centuries: (Uzbekistan State Museum, Preserve of the History and Culture of Art, Samakand). Note in particular the flat head. Another individual bone chess piece, similar in style to the lot offered, was found in Afrasiab in the previous year.

    Reference: Manfred Eder, "The present state of research regarding the oldest chessmen", paper presented to the 9th Congress of Chess Collectors International, Florence, 2000; Isaac Linder: "The Art of Chess Pieces", H.G.S. Publishers, Moscow, 1994, pp.59-64.

Saleroom notices

  • This piece is very similar in style to the figure illustrated in I.M. Linder's "The Art of Chess Pieces" (pages 62-3) and described by Linder as having an attribition from the "6th to 8th centuries". As the Afrasiab figures were discovered a metre below the surface, it is possible that these pieces are actually later in date, and so might be given a possible attribution to the later Medieval period.
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