Folding backgammon board

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood, ivory, and cord
CLASSIFICATION:
Tools and Equipment
DIMENSIONS:
Overall (open): 7 7/16 x 14 7/8 x 21 1/8 in. (18.893 x 37.783 x 53.658 cm) Overall (closed): 5 1/4 x 21 x 5 3/8 in. (13.335 x 53.34 x 13.653 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
2017.35.8

General Description

This inlaid ivory backgammon board has three small wooden figures inside, which the winner of the game could make pop up by pulling cords attached to them. Images of women framed by cartouches embellish its surface along with intricate geometric patterns. The board folds to a small size, making it suitable for traveling.

Games played with dice or movable pieces were well known in India from ancient times to the present. Chess, and other games such as Snakes and Ladders, were invented in India before spreading to other societies. Games played with dice are known from the great Indian epics, and dice were found in Indus Valley sites dating from 2500 to 1500 BCE. Backgammon, however, came to India from the Middle East and enjoyed popularity along with chess.

Adapted from

  • Anne Bromberg, Label text, 2003.

  • "Folding backgammon board" in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 121.

Fun Facts

  • The three wooden figures that pop up from recessions in the board are modern replacements. The original figures would likely have been carved in ivory.

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