Large Kashmir Style Chessmen by Oleg Raikis.
Offered here is a very large, elaborately carved, set of Kashmir Style Chessmen. The pieces are crafted from 20,000 year-old Mammoth ivory, Natural and Red-stained . The King stands a statuesque 7-1/4” tall with a 2-3/4″ diameter base. This set of Kashmir Chessmen is somewhat similar to one from the Paris Exhibition of 1867. A near-identical set is shown in the reference book “Chessmen For Collectors” by Victor Keats, figure 27. Keats describes these as “Indian Ivory carved Kashmir chessmen”. These chessmen were crafted in the workshop of renowned sculptor and Mammoth Ivory carver, Oleg Raikis and date to 2004. The chessmen are in as new condition. An image comparing the size of this King with a full Club-Size 4-3/8″ tall Staunton King is shown in the gallery.
The Amboyna Burl and Birdseye Maple chessboard shown is not included in this offering, but can be purchased elsewhere on this site. For our extensive selection of antique, traditional and unique chessboards, please click here.
British Researcher Michael Mark posits that Kashmir Style Chessmen of this type were carved in Murshidabad, India, a town in the Indian state of West Bengal, located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, around the mid-19th Century. The Sepoy Pawns and Rooks in sets of this type have features very similar to sets produced by the East Indian John Company, suggesting that they were all obtained from the same sources. These intricately carved and very complex Kashmir Style chessmen are thought to have been inspired by drawings of chess sets published in London in 1824, by Jacob Petit. His drawings appear to have been adopted by the highly experienced Indian and Kashmiri craftsmen who created Victorian inspired ivory chess sets that are considered among the most detailed ever made.
The East India Company was established in Vizagapatam around 1670. In the early 18th Century, a furniture manufacturing industry developed in the region. Specialties included inlay, carving and turning work with ivory, Sandalwood, rosewood and Tortoise shell. By the early 19th century, Buffalo and Elk horn were added to the artisan materials. By the beginning of the 19th century, elaborately carved and turned ivory chess sets such as this on, were being produced for sale on the very lucrative European market.
History Of The Chess Pieces.
The Mammoth tusk is excavated from the permafrost of the Siberian tundra, which the woolly mammoth inhabited for more than 160,000 years. During the last ice age, the mammoth went extinct as the direct result of rapidly plummeting temperatures. The dry, cold environment of Siberia combined with the massive sheets of ice from the ice age created the ideal environment for the preservation of Mammoth byproducts. The woolly Mammoths have been entombed under the Siberian permafrost ever since, waiting to be unearthed.
For more than 2,000 years, Mammoth Tusk has been traded and it remains a highly prized commodity across the world. While the demand for the Mammoth byproducts has always been higher than its supply, it began its steep rise when the international ivory ban was enacted. This agreement banned all sales of new Elephant or Walrus Ivory, in an effort to protect the animals from extinction. As a result, Mammoth tusks became the only type of animal-based ivory that is exempt from the international trade restrictions. Over the past few years, the price of Mammoth tusks has more than tripled, due largely to the unprecedented demand for luxury goods from such emerging countries as India and China. This trend is expected to continue. Less than one percent of the Mammoth tusks harvested is of suitable quality for the manufacturing of Chess pieces, thus adding the production costs and long-term value.