Lot #609. Large Wooden Chinese Chess Set, Xiang Qi



Large Wooden Chinese Chess Set, Xiang Qi.

Offered here is a large wooden Chinese Chess Set, Xiang Qi, produced in 1960. The 32 individual barrel-shaped chess pieces measure a massive 2-0″ in diameter by 7/8″ thick. Each of the chessmen are identified by Chinese calligraphy engraved in red or Navy Blue on one side. The chess pieces are extremely well turned and are in excellent condition, as is its original Espresso-stained Oak side-top storage box. A folding Mylar chessboard is included with the set of chessmen. The chess set is new, although the chessboard has signs of the color’s bleeding.

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.