Chess is one of the oldest games that has fascinated mankind. It emerged in India around 1500 years ago and was then known as chaturanga. War was a constant reality of the ancient world, and the game was a simulation of warfare. Chaturanga means “the four divisions,” a reference to what was then the standard components of the Indian army, namely the infantry (pawn), cavalry (knight), elephantry (bishop), and the chariot (rook).
Around 600 A.D. Chaturanga reached Persia (modern day Iran), where it became known as Shatranj. Persia was later conquered by the Muslims, who then brought Shatranj to Europe through Spain and Italy.
These stunning Chess and Backgammon sets have been made exclusively for the Aga Khan Museum by artists based in Syria. Over 120 hours have been invested in creating each set which feature mother of pearl inlay, rosewood, walnut and ebony. The Chess and Backgammon pieces are made of cast-iron and rosewood respectively. The artisans who have taken pride in crafting these sets are of 3rd generation wood makers who have historically been known to create sets for traditional Damascus rooms (a place of socialization and formal family gatherings) along with being used as ceremonial gifting opportunities both formal and informal.