Elephant Chess Piece

Elephant Chess Piece

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Late 17th/early 18th century, ivory, India, Metropolitan Museum of Art Dimensions: height: 5.1cm, width: 5.7cm

Ivory chess piece from late 17th to early 18th century India. Shaped like an elephant, this chess piece attests to trans-Asian cultural exchanges, military encounters, and the development of early game strategies.


  • On the Asian battlefields

    story by Manuela Gressani, Helen Kwong

    Can you imagine the force of an elephant stampede? What about the intensity of a spirited chess match? If you can, keep both in mind as we explore the adjacent worlds of warfare and chess, the ways in which they intersect and overlap, coming together in this adorable elephant-shaped chess piece. We will take you along as we travel back and forth across Asia, following the incessant movement of chess through time and space, and reflect on military strategy and imperial education.

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