Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chess anyone?

I play appalling chess, mostly because I lack the logical, strategical mindset necessary to outmaneuver my opponent but these pieces are rather wonderful. They are part of the *Lewis Chessmen* & now very properly housed at the Edinburgh & British museums. Check out the glum faces! Some of the knights are beserkers, wild eyed, shield biting beserkers!

This is the oldest surviving set in England, dating back to about 1150 & may in fact be 4 or 5 different sets; there are after all 8 Queens, which seems a little excessive by any one's standards. Most of the pieces are carved from walrus ivory, a few from whales teeth. They may have been made in Norway; similar pieces have been found at Trondheim & as we all know the outer Hebrides was ruled by Norway during the 12th century. When they were found there were traces of red die on some of the pieces which would seem to indicate that the game was played with red & white pieces, not black & white.
I love the Queen. She's just sooo thrilled to bits by events, don't you think?! I don't know if these pieces are meant to be humerous or not but honestly, the pawns are shaped like gravestones! Talk about being expendable! Wouldn't you love to play a game with these characters? Tactiley they would be a joy to handle too. Won't be happening. The likes of you & I wouldn't be let that close to them. Pity. They're rather splendid.

1 comment:

molytail said...

I don't have the patience to play chess, but those are cool! :-)

Haha, I had your page open when Blair called (he calls every morning before he heads to work - it's 9am here but 6am there) and he says "Whacha doing?" like usual and I reply with "reading about chess pieces from thousands of years ago" and I get silence and then this puzzled sounding "okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay...." LOL