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"War, Peace and Chess. Bana’s References to “Terracotta Chessmen” and “Discourses on War” in the Harsacarita"


Syed, R (2008). "War, Peace and Chess. Bana’s References to “Terracotta Chessmen” and “Discourses on War” in the Harsacarita". Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 62(2):563-573.

Abstract

Bana’s Harsacarita not only contains the oldest Indian reference to the game of chess, caturanga, played on the 64-square-board called astapada, but also gives a hint to terracotta chessmen in the phrase parthivavigrahah, which is not only to be rendered as “fights among kings”, but as “earthen figures” as well.
Chess, it seems, was played at Harsa’s court in Kanyakubja/Kanauj in the first half of the 7th century A.D. with earthen figurative chessmen. Before the game caturanga was invented – so my thesis – the theoreticians of warfare used similar terracottas as means to teach strategy and tactics of battles in sand-tables. Further, Bana’s adhikaranavicarah can be read as adhika-rana-vicara and translated as “thoughts on further battle(s)”, pointing at continuous discussions on warfare.

Bana’s Harsacarita not only contains the oldest Indian reference to the game of chess, caturanga, played on the 64-square-board called astapada, but also gives a hint to terracotta chessmen in the phrase parthivavigrahah, which is not only to be rendered as “fights among kings”, but as “earthen figures” as well.
Chess, it seems, was played at Harsa’s court in Kanyakubja/Kanauj in the first half of the 7th century A.D. with earthen figurative chessmen. Before the game caturanga was invented – so my thesis – the theoreticians of warfare used similar terracottas as means to teach strategy and tactics of battles in sand-tables. Further, Bana’s adhikaranavicarah can be read as adhika-rana-vicara and translated as “thoughts on further battle(s)”, pointing at continuous discussions on warfare.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 62 (2008) > 2
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:15 Sep 2009 12:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:20
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-20709

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