Antique Xiangqi or Chinese Chess Set
Offered here is an Antique Xiangqi or Chinese Chess set. This very rare and old set of ivory chessmen dates from around 1750. The individual barrel-shaped units measure 1-1/4″ in diameter by 5/8″ thick. Each of the chessmen are identified by characters engraved on both sides in red or blue ink. The chess pieces are in excellent condition.
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.