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Chaturanga (Caturanga, Catur)





Eastern Asia, Southern Asia


Board, War, Chaturanga.


Chaturanga is believed to be the earliest ancestor of Chess, Shogi, and many other similar games throughout the world. It is first documented in India, and the pieces (infantry, horses, elephants, and chariots) reflect the four divisions of the Indian army, who protect the counselor and king. Various Indian texts discuss the rules and problems, and it is also a popular theme in Indian art and literature.


Played on an 8x8 board. 8 Bhata (or Padati; move like Chess pawns but without being able to move two on the first turn); 2 Ashva (horses; move like Chess knights); 2 Gaja (elephants; can have three different moves: two squares diagonal in any direction, jumping over the first square, one step diagonal in any direction, or two squares in an orthogonal direction, skipping over the first square); 2 Ratha (chariots; moves like a rook in chess); 1 Mantri (counselor; moves one square diagonally in any direction); 1 Raja (king; moves one square in any direction). These are set up along one edge of the board: Ratha-Ashva-Gaja-Mantri-Raja-Gaja-Ashva-Ratha, with the eight Bhata lined up in the row in front of these, as in chess. Players take turns moving. When one piece lands on the space occupied by another piece, it is captured. Play continues until one player's king cannot move without being captured.

Bock-Raming 1996.



Ludeme Description



Murray 1913: 51–94

Evidence Map

5 pieces of evidence in total. Browse all evidence for Chaturanga here.

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Bock-Raming, A. 1996. Manasollasa, 5,560–623: Ein Bisher unbeachtet gebliebener Text zum indischen Schachspiel, übersetzt, kommentiert und interpretiert. Indo-Iranian Journal. 39(1):1–40.

Mark, M. 2007. "The Beginnings of Chess." In I. Finkel ed, Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London: The British Museum Press, p. 138–157.

Murray, H. J. R. 1913. A History of Chess. London: Oxford University Press.




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