Antique Bronze Chinese Chess Set, Xiang Qi.
Offered here is a very large and unusual Antique Bronze Chinese Chess Set, or Xiang Qi, dating uncertain. The 32 individual bronze chess pieces measure 1-7/8″ in diameter by 3/8″ thick. Each of the chessmen are identified by Chinese calligraphy engraved on one side and the pictorial character it represents on the obverse. The coins are extremely well struck with age-expected wear on the side with the pictorial representations. The chessmen are housed in a replacement box and does not include a chessboard, although these are easily acquired.
In the ancient city Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, 30 bronze Chinese chess pieces were recently unearthed from a tomb dating back to the period between Tang and Song dynasty a thousand years ago. Note their similarity to the chessmen offered here.
Xiangqi is also known as Chinese chess. It is one of the oldest forms of chess and one of the most popular board games in China. It is related to Western Chess, Chaturanga, Shogi, Indian chess and Janggi. There are several differences between Xiangqi and Western Chess. The most significant are the new piece, the Cannon (pao), which must have a “screen” to capture; a rule forbidding the Kings (or Generals) from directly opposing each other; the ability to block the Knight, Pawn promotion; the river, which the Elephants can’t cross; and the Fortress or Palace, which confines the King and his advisors (Visors).
The battlefield is composed of 9 vertical lines (files) and 10 horizontal lines (ranks) with the pieces being played on the intersections. On the center of each edge of the board is the fortress or palace, which is 3 by 3 lines (9 points) with four diagonal lines that extend outward from the center forming an “X” shape. Dividing the two opposing sides of the board is a river, located between the fifth and sixth ranks. The river is often marked with the Chinese characters, 楚河 “Chǔ Hé” meaning “Chu River”, and 漢界 (汉界 in simplified Chinese), “Hàn Jiè”, meaning “Han border”, a reference to the Chu-Han War. Some boards have the starting points of soldiers marked with symbols.