KCHR to Document Traditional Indian Board Games

Board games have always been popular in India and the country has a great tradition in it. Now, in what could be a pioneering effort, the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) is set to document and showcase the traditional board games in the country for the Muziris Children’s Museum at Pattanam.

The Museum has a board game corner where the Roman gaming counters excavated at Pattanam are displayed. Arrangements are also being made to provide children hands-on experience of ancient board games.

KCHR, through a public campaign, will document, conserve and illuminate available information and material remains on traditional board games. The agency is seeking public support for systematic conservation coinciding with its decision to digitise Kerala’s past. KCHR is also calling for applicants to do research on ancient board games which would be funded by it.

“KCHR considers it pertinent to collect and collate all available information on the living traditions as well as pieces of known evidence of various board game traditions,” Prof P J Cherian, Director of KCHR and Pattanam Excavations said.

The presence of board games has been recorded in Mohenjo-daro and numerous other archaeological sites and social spaces across the Indian sub-continent, he said.

The KCHR initiative could be a pioneering effort to document and showcase a permanent collection of this rare intellectual legacy, he said.

“In Indian region, board games, often a perfect blend of intelligence and luck, transcended social boundaries. We expect that the project will yield important information from all parts of the country and help the study of the history of leisure,” Cherian said.

KCHR would provide necessary support for systematic conservation to academics and other informed public as part of the Digitizing Kerala’s Past Project (dkp.kchr.ac.in).

KCHR has appealed to artisans and families that were involved in crafting and playing the games to lend their expertise to the project.

KCHR is also seeking photographs, sketches, specimens, rules involved in playing the board games in different social, cultural and religious spaces from these families.

“We urge each participant to send us information from published sources, with bibliographic details and collect information (rules, photographs, sketches, specimens, etc) on board games locally practised in different social, cultural and religious spaces,” said Cherian.