Sunday, April 13, 2008

Harrappan Figurine

Here's an interesting figurine I came across, it's from Harrappa, unfortunately not dated. It's called a "begging dog." The round base reminds me of ancient gaming pieces that have been excavated in the Middle East, Egypt and elsewhere.
Interestingly, game pieces in the ancient Middle East were often called "dogs" even if they did not resemble dogs. For instance, in her discussion about the game of nard, Anna Contadini wrote that the playing pieces were called "kilab" (dogs) in Arabic. In the Greek game Polis (Poleis - "cities"), the gaming pieces were called "dogs." (See Roland G. Austin's 1940 article "Greek Board Games," preserved at the Elliott Avedon Museum of Games website). H.J.R. Murray noted in his monumental "A History of Chess" on pages 37-38: "The board is arranged so that the divisions or points constitute a track along which the men (in Asia commonly called horses or dogs) are moved in obedience to the throws of the dice or equivalent implements (e.g. staves, shells, seeds, teetotums)."

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