The Allure of a Ritual: Celebrating Hajj through the Arts
27 July 2020
When in isolation, one of the best ways to pass time is through play.
For hundreds of years, board games have brought people together, and continue to do so today, even when in competition against modern digital offerings. On display in Ithra’s Islamic Arts Gallery from the LACMA's collection is this rare and exquisite 17th century Backgammon Board from Isfahan, Iran.
According to the Persian poet Firdawsi in his epic work the Shahnama (Book of Kings), Buzurgmihr, the Shah’s vizier, invented the game of backgammon, or nard, as a reciprocal test of skill for an Indian envoy who had challenged the Persian court to solve the riddle of the chessboard and its pieces. In this charming and unusual backgammon board, tiny figures are seen seated on the ground, two of them deeply engrossed in a board game.