Walrus Ivory chess set
Lot 200
An 18th century Russian Kholmogory walrus ivory figural set
Sold for £3,407 (US$ 5,030) inc. premium

Lot Details
An 18th century Russian Kholmogory walrus ivory figural set
One side stained blue, the other side natural, both sides representing Circassians orturks, kings seated on thrones, queens as viziers, bishops as elephants, knights as soldiers mounted on rearing horses, rooks as single masted sailing vessels, pawns as foot soldiers, some elements later, lacking two pawns and two knights, the king 8.3cm, the pawn 6cm high, with a 19th century leather box, a.f. (2)

See illustration front cover for detail and page for all pieces

Footnotes

  • Similar sets are held in the State Historical Museum of Moscow, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
    A similar set is illustrated in 'The Illustrated Guide to World Chess Sets' by Victor Keats (p.165).
    This is an unusual set as most examples have one side stained either brown or red with the opposing side being left in its natural state. Furthermore, most sets depict Muslims wearing turbans versus Russians, donned in Roman apparel, rather than both sides representing Muslims, as in this set.
    A characteristic feature of this type of set is that the rooks and bishops are in the form of sailing vessels and elephants respectively, which derives from early Indian and Eastern chess designs.
    Walrus ivory was the predominant material used for these sets, as it was relatively easy to source in this Russian region.
Auction information

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