Description & Technical information

This large Iranian takhteh (‘gamesboard”) is made of wood and veneered using the ancient Persian inlaying technique of khatam with delicate pieces of wood, metal and bone pieced together to produce the rich and intricate geometric decorations formed of mostly stars, hexagons, and diamonds. As many as 400 pieces of multi-coloured materials would have been pieced and fit into a square inch to form these intricate geometric patterns.[1]   
The gamesboard consists of two rectangular parts that are joined together with two metal hinges, enabling the object to be closed and stored as an oblong shaped box. When opened, the exterior of the board forms an eight by eight grid for playing chess (or draughts) at its centre, and surrounding this grid there are six rectangular panels on each corner of the elongated board which collectively function as the 24 points required in a standard game of backgammon. The interior of the board is painted entirely with red paint and consists of three rectangular compartments to store backgammon counters, dice and chess pieces.
Both chess and backgammon were highly popular board games in the Middle East and were even the subject of a Persian text composed in the ninth century, Wizarisn i catrang ud nihisn i new-ardaxsir (“The Explanation of Chess and the Arrangement of Backgammon”), which is the believed to be the earliest recorded text regarding these games.[2]
The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, has a similar takhteh; however, the exterior does not have a chess board, see Museum Number: 935:1-1869.  
[1] See, Javad Golmohammadi. 2016. “The Art of Iranian Decorative Veneer, Khatam-kari”. In Art, Trade and Culture in the Islamic World and Beyond: From the Fatimids to the Mughals, edited by J.M. Rogers, Allison Ohta, and Rosalind Wade Haddon. London: Ginko Library. pp. 242-253.
[2] Touraj Daryaee. 2006. “Chess”. In Medieval Islamic Civilization: A-K, Index, edited by Josef W. Meri. New York: Routledge. p.148.  

Date:  Mid-19th century
Period:  19th century, 1850-1900
Origin:  Iran
Dimensions: 58.5 x 45 x 7 cm (23 x 17³/₄ x 2³/₄ inches)
Categories: Oriental and Asian Art