A really beautiful Indian board, dating from the 18th century. Chess on one side, backgammon or “Nard” on the other. The board comes in two sections which slot or push together. Highly decorative painted and lacquered decoration, typical of Kashmiri or Northern Indian work, in greens, reds, and blue against an ‘ivory’ coloured ground. The chess side also has squares with painted pink roses and leaves.
Similar to the board sold at Bonhams: Lot 46 “The Martine Jeannin Collection (The Martine Jeannin Gallery, 39 rue Jacob, Paris)”, 29th April, 2009.
Nard (or nardshir, or narde, Persian نرد) is a board game for two players in which the playing pieces are moved according to the roll of dice. It is similar to backgammon, uses the same board, but it has different initial positions and rules.
The game has been historically popular in Persia, Muslim countries, and among Babylonian Jews. The name nardshir comes from the Persian nard (Wooden block) and shir (lion) referring to the two type of pieces used in play.
A common legend associates the game with the founder of the Sassanian dynasty, Ardshir. The oldest known reference to the game is thought to be a passage in the Talmud, although some claim it refers to the Greek game Kubeia. Another early reference is to be found in the Middle Persian romance of Chatrang-namak (written between the 7th and 9th centuries) which attributes the invention of the game to Bozorgmehr.