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Lewis Chessmen

Lewis Chessmen
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These chess pieces were found unexpectedly on a beach on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in 1831. They were carved from walrus ivory and whale tooth between around 1150 and 1200. When found some were stained red, suggesting that the original colour combination of the pieces was red and white. The chess pieces were probably made in Norway. At this time the Isle of Lewis was part of the kingdom of Norway. The chess pieces may have been buried by a merchant travelling along the trade route from Scandinavia to Ireland.

Where did chess originate?

Chess originated in India after 500 BC and had arrived in Christian Europe via the Islamic world by at least the AD 990s. The original Indian and Islamic game was adapted to reflect medieval European society, so that the Indian war elephant was replaced with the figure of the bishop. The rooks biting their shields resemble the Viking berserkers of Norse myth, while the pose of the queens is derived from depictions of the grieving Virgin Mary. The pawns, lacking any human features, reflect the abstract pieces used in the Islamic version of the game.
Date: 2018-01-16 09:28:07




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