Antique Type-IIIB Burmese Chessmen
A set of large, elaborately carved Antique Type IIIB Burmese Chessmen, natural and red-stained ivory. The King stands an impressive 4-1/4” tall with a 1-1/2″ diameter base. The set was produced in Canton around 1820 and most likely sold in Macao. The Antique Type IIIB Burmese Chessmen are characterized by a carved face on the headpieces of all the Royal chessmen – the Kings, Queens and Bishops. This feature is found on the largest Burmese sets with King heights 4-0″ and larger. The set is housed in a replacement box. The chessmen are in excellent condition with no repairs or replacements. The red stain is still strong and vibrant.
The Type II Chessmen will have a face carved on the bishops only and are normally found on Burmese sets with King heights under 4″. Type I Burmese chessmen tend to be the smallest and the chessmen will have faceless headpieces. The Type IIIB Burmese chessmen differ from the Type IIIA sets in the configuration of the bodies of the Royal pieces and the King’s and Queen’s finials. These are shown in the images below.
These Type IIIB Burmese chess sets were made for the European Market and probably sold in Macao which was the only place in China where Europeans were allowed to visit prior to the Opium Wars of the 1840s. Circa 1840.
Comparable sets of chessmen were made in the Vizagapatam region of India, apparently to compete with the Chinese for the lucrative European market. The Indian ivory craft industry also produced Sets of the Type I through Type IV design in various sizes. Below are examples of competitive Type I and Type IV ivory chessmen produced in India.