marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Ivory Vikings

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them by Nancy Marie Brown

A discussion on topics suggested by the famous Lewis chessmen: medieval chess figures carved from walrus ivory.

A bit rambling. Touches on such matters as Iceland (where the walruses were hunted to extinction), berserkers (since the rooks were carved as berserkers), how Arabic chess pieces were abstract, the historicity of the Icelandic sagas (varying), the authority of queens and how the modern day queen's move did not appear until just before the 16th century, how few tools were needed to work it (though given its brittle nature, an ivory carver would train on wood first), the authenticity of the short, pony-sized horses that the knights rode, and more,
Tags: history reviews: medieval

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