Chess has had a long and colorful history since its beginnings in the 6th century. And ever since the creation of the game the board and game pieces have been a continuous source of inspiration for artists who year after year create new interpretations. Here is a look at chess’s place in history and culture along with some historically and artistically important sets.
Chess originated in India during the Gupta empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as caturaṅga, which translates as “four divisions [of the military]” – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry, represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. Both the Persians and Arabs attribute the game of chess to the Indians. In Sassanid Persia around 600 the name became shatranj and the rules were developed further. Shatranj was taken up by the Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia, with the pieces largely retaining their Persian names. In Spanish “shatranj” was rendered as ajedrez, in Portuguese as xadrez, and in Greek as zatrikion, but in the rest of Europe it was replaced by versions of the Persian shāh (“king”), which was familiar as an exclamation and became our words “check and chess”. Murray theorized that this change happened from Muslim traders coming to European seaports with ornamental chess kings as curios before they brought the game of chess.
Here is the full article with many pictures.
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– GM Susan Polgar