Antique Rajasthan Polychrome Cased Chess Pieces.
Offered here is a set of Antique Rajasthan Polychrome Cased Chess Pieces. The King stands 3.4″ tall with a 2.0″ long base. The chessmen are very finely carved and accented in pink and blue polychrome. The chess pieces are in excellent condition and were manufactured in Rajasthan, India around 1880. The Kings and Queens are represented as royals in closed and open howdahs respectively. The Rooks are soldiers mounted atop elephants. The Knights are soldiers on Horseback while the Bishops are represented as riders atop Camels. The set is highly decorative, and the gilt decoration is a typical example of the Rajasthan style The chessmen are housed in a somewhat tatter red leather case, lined in white silk. The pieces stand upright in the case held in place by cut-outs in the base of the box.
Chess sets from Rajasthan are among the earliest surviving sets. The figures in these sets are almost invariably depicted wearing a short Jama with trousers showing underneath. This style was in fashion between about 1830 and 1880. Quaint, brightly colored figures were also made in Surat, which had been an East India Company factory since the 17th century where there was a European market until the middle of the 19th century. It seems likely that Rajasthani sets were made between around 1830 and 1880. The appearance of typical Rajasthani chess sets in large quantities is consistent with there being a market in Rajasthan by the middle of the 19th century, where there was a sufficient European presence to account for the number of chess sets which have survived. The period of popularity of these sets does not appear to have been long. By 1886, it was reported that there was little ivory work being performed in Rajasthan.