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more modern than the simple game of the Persians, of which he could not find any account in the writings of the Brahmans.
"He informs us that the Sanskrit name is Chaturanga, and the root from which the name of the game is derived in modern languages. It literally means the four members of an army, Elephants, Horses, Chariots, and foot-soldiers, the same as exhibited at this day; but the game described by him is more generally known by the name of Chaturājī,2 or the four kings, since, he observes, 'it is played by four persons representing as many princes, two allied armies combating on each side.' The board is quadrilateral, with sixty-four checks, as ours; but what forms one army with us, is divided in two, each having its King, elephant, horse, and boat, with four foot-soldiers in front, placed at the left-hand angle of each face of the board. The power of the King is the same as in the modern game; the Elephant has the same powers as the English Queen, moving at will in all directions; the Horse the same as the modern Horse or Knight; the Boat as the modern Bishop, with the limitation of moving only two checks at once; the Peon the same as the modern Pawn.
"This game is mentioned in the oldest law books, and is said to have been invented by the wife of Ravan, King of Lanka, (i.e. Ceylon,) in order to amuse him with an image of war (field war I suppose is meant,) while his metropolis was closely besieged by Rāma, in the second age of the world. Rāma,3 according to Sir
1 This I have repeatedly shewn to be an error. The root from which the name of the game in modern European languages is derived, is the Persian word Shah, not the Sanskrit Chaturanga.-F.
2 An error vide page, 18, note 1.
3 The high degree of polish which prevailed at the Court of Ravan, at this early period, is well worthy notice. In a copy from an ancient Hindū paint
William Jones's Chronology of the Hindus, appeared on earth at least three thousand eight hundred years ago; and this event happened in an early part of his career ; yet, notwithstanding these proofs of antiquity and originality, Sir William Jones was of opinion that this rudimental and complex game is a more recent invention than the refined game of the Persians and Europeans; which he also states to have been certainly invented in India, and appears, therefore, to have considered the original. But, to admit this, would, I conceive, be inverting the usual order of things.
"Two other distinctions are remarkable of the Hindu game; the introduction of a Ship or Boat amongst troops, &c. embattled on a plain; and the use of dice, which determines the moves, and, as Sir William justly observes, excludes it from the rank which has been assigned to Chess among the sciences.
"In respect to the first of these distinctions, I cannot help suspecting a mistake in translating the passage, which I must leave to abler critics to decide.1 In
ing which I possess, his capital appears to be regularly fortified in the antique style, with projecting round towers and battlements, and he is said to have defended it with singular ability; hence he and his people were called magicians and giants, for to the invading Rāma, and his hordes of Barbarian mountaineers, called in derision satyrs or monkeys, his science must have appeared supernatural. In fact, Ravan appears to have been the Archimedes of Lanka.-C.
1 On this passage we have the following note from the pen of H. Colebrooke, Esq., at that time the first Sanskrit scholar in India. "The term (naukā) which occurs in the passage translated by Sir William Jones from the Bhawishya Purāna, undoubtedly signifies a Boat, and has no other acceptation. The four members of an army, as explained in the Amara kósha, certainly are Elephants, Horses, Chariots, and Infantry. Yet, there is no room to suspect a mistake in the translation; on the contrary, the practice of the game called Chaturanga confirms the translation; for a Boat, not a Chariot, is one of the pieces, and the game is played by four persons with long dice. Another sort of Chaturanga, the same with the Persian and Hindūstānī Chess, is played by two persons and without dice. In Bengal, a Boat is one of the pieces at this game likewise; but, in some parts of India, a Camel takes the place of the
explaining the meaning of Chatur-anga, Sir William says, 'that is the four angas or members of an army, which are said in the Amarakosha to be, Hasty-áswaratha-padātam, or Elephants, Horses, Chariots, and footsoldiers.' And the same names are used in India at this day.
"Sir William notices the Chinese game as having a river described on the board, which the Indian board has not; and seems to infer that a Ship or Boat might be introduced in the Chinese game with propriety. Hence a query might arise whether the Indian board, as now used, is the ancient one appropriate to the game, in which a Boat is said to be introduced instead of à Chariot; but in the Chinese game, of which I have an account before me, although what is erroneously termed a river is delineated on the board, yet there is no Ship or Boat among the pieces. Instead of a Boat, they have a Chariot. How are we to reconcile these contradictions ?-I fear, in the present state of our information, they are inexplicable.1 At all events, I shall attempt only as distinct an account as is in my power of the four principal games and modes of playing Chess in Asia, viz. first, the one from the Purānas, cited by
Bishop, and an Elephant that of the Rook; while the Hindus of the peninsula (I mean those of Karnataka above the Ghāts) preserve, as I am informed, the Chariot among the pieces of the game. I find also, in an ancient Treatise of Law, the Elephant, Horse, and Chariot, mentioned as pieces of the game of Chaturanga. The substitution of a Camel, or of a Boat, for the Chariot, is probably an innovation; but there is no reason for thence inferring a mistake in the translation, or in the reading, of the passage which Sir William Jones. extracted from the Bawishya Purāna.”
1 I believe the "contradictions " are merely apparent, and not so very difficult of explanation, as I have already endeavoured to shew. The primeval Chaturanga had the boat, but no chariot. When the Chaturanga became modified into the medieval Shatranj, a war chariot appears to have been substituted for the boat. Well, some centuries, we know not how many, after this modification took place, the medieval game penetrated into Burmha, Tibet, and China, having only the chariot, but not the boat.-F.
Sir William Jones as above; second, the Chinese, described by Mr. Irwin; third, the Burmha; and lastly, the Persian or present Hindūstānī; comparing them with each other and the English game; and must leave it to some more fortunate enquirer to determine which is the original.
"I have given precedence to the game said to be invented at Lanka, as it appears to be the most ancient, according to the authorities adduced by Sir William Jones; and as the Persians admit that they received the game from India. I am aware that the Honourable Mr. Daines Barrington, in a paper published in the 'Archæologia' at London, gives it as his opinion that the Chinese game is the most ancient; and has taken great pains to disprove the Grecian claim to the invention (vide ninth volume of the Archæologia.') But, according to the Chinese manuscript, accompanying Mr. Irwin's account in the transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, the Chinese invalidate their claim of originality, by fixing the date of the game they assume the honour of inventing [only] 174 years before the Christian era.
"In the ancient Hindu game I have already noticed that the principal distinction from the English consists in having four distinct armies and Kings; each army composed of half the number of pieces and Pawns used in one of ours; secondly, the Elephant holds the station and power of our Queen;' thirdly, there is a Boat instead of our Castle, but with the powers of a Bishop limited to a move of two checks at once; fourthly, the Pawn, or Peon, has not an optional rank when advanced to the last line of the adversary's checks, merely assuming the rank of the
1 I have already shown (page 19, note 2) that this is an error arising from a misapprehension on the part of Sir William Jones and the Brahman Rādha Kant.-F.
piece whose place he possesses (excepting the Boat); fifthly, the use of dice to determine the moves, as follows: When a cinque is thrown, the King or Pawn must be moved; a quatre, the Elephant; a trois, the Horse; and a deux, the Boat. Other variations are, that the King, Elephant, and Horse may slay, but cannot be slain;1 neither does it appear that the King can be removed to a place of more security, by any operation similar to the modern mode of castling. Indeed, the mode of playing this game is very obscurely described; all that is known of it has already been published by Sir William Jones, in the Transactions of the [Asiatic] Society, to which I must refer those who require further information."
Here I omit some fifteen pages of Captain Cox's letter, in which he concisely describes, by the aid of diagrams, the four varieties of Chess above alluded to. The Chaturanga and Shatranj I of course pass over, as they form the main object of the preceding work. The Burmese and Chinese games have been noticed in our last chapter. Captain Cox seems to consider the Shatranj or mediæval game as identical with the Hindūstānī game of his day. It is quite possible that such of the natives of India as the Captain encountered knew, or preferred, only the Shatranj; but it will be seen from what we stated in pages 162 and 249, &c., that the "Blackmen" and "Brahmans " were acquainted with our game at least a score of years previous to the date of the Captain's letter.
At the conclusion of what Captain Cox calls the
1 This I have proved to be an erroneous idea.-F.
2 Here I agree with the Captain Ṣāḥib; and I have already endeavoured to remove the obscurity complained of.-Vide Chap. III.—F.