Sunday, September 10, 2017

KRIDAPATRAM


 The picture above that's been displayed looks like a painting, but in reality it is one of the leaves from 'playing cards', used by ancient Indians to play the game of cards, also called as 'kridapatram'. According to the Aphilomath Journal, this game of cards originated in ancient India, where the cards were made of cloths and the motifs depicted the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. 


Cards having Ramayana and Mahabharata motifs 

The playing cards were called as 'ganjifa cards', in medieval India, and is believed to be played by the royals. It's been recorded that the Ganjifa was played in areas of Rajputana, Kashyapa Meru (Kashmir), Utkala (Orissa), the Deccan and even in Nepal. Each area had their own version of making cards and motifs depended on the culture and history of the place. 

Cards depicting the Dash avatar from West Bengal


Later the Mughals took the game of cards further and According to Abul Fazal’s (Author of the Ain-e-Akbari ), he describes the cards used by the mughals, where the first set of cards depicted Ashvapati which is the ‘lord of horses’. The Ashvapati which was ranked the highest card in the pack, represented the picture of the king on a horseback. The second represented a General (Senapati) on a horseback. After this card came ten other cards with pictures of horses from one to ten. Another set of cards had the Gajapati (lord of elephants) which represented the king whose power lay in the number of elephants. The other eleven cards in this pack represented the Senapati and ten others with a soldier astride an elephant. Another pack had the Narpati, a king whose power lies in his infantry. The other cards  were known as the Dhanpati, the lord of treasures, Dalpati the lord of the squadron, Navapati, the lord of the navy, Surapati, the lord of divinities, Asrapati, the lord of genii, Vanapati, the king of the forest, Ahipati, the lord of snakes and so on. (Excerpt from the Aphilomath Journal)

A mughal set of playing cards.

The cards were all hand made, by pasting layers of clothes traditionally handcrafted and hand painted. The the cards were made according to the likes of the king. It's been a habit of making the cards circular, with oval and rectangular cards being seen now and then. This art of making cards has been existent for over hundred years and died slowly by the advent of the Europeans who took over in the 17th - 18th century, where they started producing cards made of paper. 

This blog with be followed by play during the other periods of Medieval India, which will be a perfect closure to the history of Indian play. 

Picture sources are from Google images and Pinterest.

By Dr Srividya K.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

PLAY THROUGH THE AGES, INDIAN PERSPECTIVE

Play, a word, that is synonymous with letting the mind run wild, creating a whole new world using imagination. The word play, brings in thoughts and feelings of lots of fun, fun and fun. 

The study conducted by Meera Oka et al, mentioned in the earlier blog, has led us to understand how play was perceived in the Indian perspective. The best way to look at it was through the civilisations that the country has witnessed across ages. The Indus valley civilisation is the first among the civilisations and a look at the previous blogs throws light upon the fact that play for children was given importance. The importance given to play has been understood only through the play materials that were found in the excavations, but no literature is available regarding the thoughts of people or any philosophers, during that civilisation about play.  

Therefore, I have tried to understand and pen down the importance given to play in the ancient times, with the help of literature available on the games that were played by adults. With the support of articles written by Lakhveer Kaur & Rajesh Chander and Keshav Lahane on Ancient Indian sports, let's delve into the matter.

The Indus valley civilisation is followed by the Vedic period (2500 BC - 600 BC), named so because it was marked by the development of vedas. The Ramayana and Mahabharatha also are a part of this vedic period. It's very clear from the scriptures that the adults involved in sports like chariot racing, archery, military games, swimming, wrestling and hunting. A historic analysis done by the authors mentioned above reveals that people involved in ball games and courtyard games like "hide and seek" and "run and catch" were prevalent. Games involving dices were very popular. 

Education to children followed a method called the 'gurukul' system, where the children had to leave their homes and stay in gurukuls. There the gurus would teach them the way of life. The gurukul system was not just for learning to read and write, but also  learning to live life independently.

The games like archery, racing, swimming were not just adult games, but was imbibed in the adults when they were young by their gurus, which proves that play was given importance. History also reveals that music and dance gained a lot of importance, and women were treated with lot of respect. Music and dance can also considered as forms of play.

There are instances in the scriptures which reveals that Lord Krishna played 'iti danda or 'gullidanda' along the banks of Yamuna river. The most popular game of cards was also played by the ancient Indians, locally knows as 'kridapatram'.

The history of 'kridapatram' itself is very interesting, which if explained with pictures, will make it more interesting and that will be something to look forward in the next blog.

By Dr Srividya K

Sunday, August 27, 2017

GAMES OF INDIAN ORIGIN - PART 2

VARIATIONS OF CHESS

Review of literature suggests that the games of chess has had many variations and one of them is the very famous game of dice played by Yudishtira and Duryodhana, also know as 'pagade', which has been very well described in the epic Mahabharath.





This game can be played by 2,3 or 4 players. The roll of the dice predicts a players moves. This is a 8 squares games, constructed on a piece of cloth. The player has to move all around the squares, avoiding being taken down and at the same time trying to win over other players, by reaching the center of the cloth. Each player has 4 pawns to play with, and it's the players responsibility to bring all the pawns to the center of the cloth.

This game came to be known as 'Pachisi', which was played by the Mughal emperors during the 6th century AD, and evidence has been found in the Ajantha caves.



The variations of 'Pachisi' are the modern games Ludo (coined by the British) and Aggravation (a US version of ludo).



Literature review also points out that down south, there were even more variations of the game Pachisi. Around 10th century AD, the Tamil variations came to be known as 'Adu Puliattam'.


Also known as 'goats and tigers', involving 3 tigers and 15 goats. It's a 2 player games, where the player owning tiger will try encountering the goats, and the goats have to be moved strategically to avoid the tiger. It a tiger catches a lone goat, then the players loses a goat pawn, and if 4 goats surround a tiger, a tiger pawn is lost.

Nakshatraattam’ (Star game) is the one where each player cuts out the other and the game named ‘Dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, is similar to modern day Ludo. 

Note that most of the pictures and sources are from veda.wikidot.com, wikipedia and Aphilomath Journal.

By Dr Srividya K

Sunday, August 20, 2017

GAMES OF INDIAN ORIGIN - PART 1

CHESS

The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares). It's believed that this game might have originated around 7th-8th century AD. Ashtapada” in Sanskrit denotes a spider -“a legendary being with eight legs” and this game was played with a dice on an 8×8 checkered board. Back then the chess board were not black and white checkers, unlike the one we see now.





Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam. Later this game came to be known as Chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means ‘quadripartite’ — the four Angas (divided into four parts) which symbolize “the 4 branches of the army", which has been said in the Amarakosh, an ancient indian dictionary. Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, Chaturanga was mainly a game of chance where results depended on how well you rolled the dice. Played on an authentic cloth  by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of a wooden dice. (Aphilomaths Journal - https://aphilomathsjournal.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/popular-games-sports-that-originated-in-ancient-india/) 

On May 3rd 2017, an exhibition 'The Art of Kreeda', as a part of South Asian Heritage month, Mr. Raheel Patel, curator of the exhibition showcased some of the board games that originated in India, and Chess being one of them. Mr.Patel has recreated the entire chess set, and he is of the belief that chess origination can be traced to the Indus Valley civilisation.

(Courtesy - https://www.bramptonguardian.com/community-story/7292877-pama-brings-indus-valley-civilization-board-games-to-peel/)

This picture above is a recreation of the game Chaturanga, where 2,3 or 4 players can play this game with the help of rolling dice.
(Courtesy - https://www.bramptonguardian.com/community-story/7292877-pama-brings-indus-valley-civilization-board-games-to-peel/)

Around 1983-89 Sir.William Jones opines in the 2nd volume of Asiatic Researches, that the game of chess is authentically of Indian origin. This is based on the testimony of Persians, and not from any manuscripts. The famous Persian poet Firdousi, in his famous Shahanama, describes the introduction of Chaturanga from 'Hind', as a Sovereign, and the Persians changed it name to 'Chatrang', and later with the conquest of Persia by Arabs the name changed to 'Shatranj'. 

(Aphilomaths Journal - https://aphilomathsjournal.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/popular-games-sports-that-originated-in-ancient-india/) 

The Persian and Arabic version of chess had camels also, which were part of cavalry for them. It's still highly debated as to the origin of the game of chess. But Majority of the evidence points to the fact that chess originated in India. There are more games that are derivatives from chess, which will be dealt upon in the next blog.

By Dr Srividya K



Sunday, August 13, 2017

INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION - TOYS MADE FOR CHILDREN

The history of Indus valley civilisation has been very intriguing so far, and looking at it's history from play perspective has completely opened up a new world of knowledge. This write up is a continuation of the previous blog, which threw light upon the fact that the people, especially adults, did engage in many constructive and physically actives games.

Time and again literature review and archaeological excavations has also proved that play had equal importance to children of this civilisation. The National museum of Delhi  and Pakistan has a number of artifacts displayed that the archaeologists have been able to recover from excavation. Numerous toys were recovered made of clay, which were especially made for children, which leads us to believe the fact that children did involve themselves in lots of games.

Without much ado, let's take a look at the kinds toys used by children of those times. 


(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

This artifact above is displayed in the National Museum, Delhi, which shows some figurines and toy carts which are movable.




Few more toys in the form of carts. these toys reminds us of Channapatna toys, which are not just toys but speaks of the culture as well.
(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)


The below artifact displayed does resemble one of the modern day toys. The dice, marbles and some pawns used for games are recognizable. The most intriguing toy is the circular and rectangular mazes. These are clay marble mazes, whose modern day version is the one made of plastic, with a small metal ball inside secured with a plastic transparent top.

(Picture Courtesy: Google Images and Pinterst)


Some more collection of movable toys. A note of appreciation to the craftsmanship as well as the forethought of the makers of these toys, and again a look at these toys will bring in a feeling of dejavu!  
IMG_1534ver2 (my-india) Tags: india bird history archaeology wheel museum wales ancient asia south prince valley civilization mumbai civilisation indus harappan
(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)


These toys resembles our modern kitchen set, which is actually so, made of clay created for the purpose of play.
                                          IMG_1585ver2 (my-india) Tags: india history archaeology museum wales miniature ancient asia south prince valley pottery civilization mumbai civilisation indus harappan
(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)


 Animal figurines resembling modern day zoo set.

IMG_1540ver2 (my-india) Tags: india game history archaeology animal museum wales toy ancient asia south prince valley civilization mumbai civilisation indus harappanImage result for delhi museum indus valley civilisation
Related image  
(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)


Hollow egg and bird shaped whistles most probably used to amuse children and also may represent pet birds like doves or partridges.

                                                                          Toy boat of Harrappa also made of clay.
.(Picture Courtesy: harappa.com)


Terracotta Figurines (my-india) Tags: pakistan india history archaeology museum wales ancient asia terracotta south prince valley civilization figurine mumbai civilisation indus excavation harappan mohanjodaro
(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

Figurines with movable heads from Harappa, which most of the time depicts cattle. They are usually pierced laterally through the neck and vertically or sagittally through the head in order to secure them to the bodies and control them with a cord. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, https://www.harappa.com/slide/toy-boat-harappa

The pictures of artifacts illustrated above are one among the few handpicked ones. There is a treasure chest of artifacts that have been made available for the common man on the internet. The ones who felt this blog interesting can very well go ahead and look for many more.

By Dr Srividya K  




Sunday, August 6, 2017

INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION

The Indus valley civilisation or Harappan civilisation originated during 2500 BC around the Indus valley, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, which now is eastern Pakistan. This civilisation is very well known in their advancement of technology and lifestyle. Facts about the civilisation have been accounted for from the vast excavations made by archaeologists, which explains about the way of life of the people of Indus valley.

The excavations conducted at the Indus valley sites also help us to understand the games and past times of the people of Indus valley. There is also evidence that play for children also had a lot of importance by the toys that has been unearthed from these sites. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, as the saying goes, let’s try to understand the prominence given to sports and games during the Indus valley period with the help of pictures of the relics unearthed.

(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

Take a look at the above picture! There is a weapon which resembles the modern day javelin, round balls which resembles the shot put ball of our time and a disc shaped instrument resembling out modern day discus. Literature review reveals that the javelin was called as’ toran’ and the discus as ‘chakra’. All these relics throws light upon the pastimes of the people, and also that games like javelin and discus throw could have originated from this period.



(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

These images of bronze statues of a dancer from Mohenjo-Daro, points out to the fact that music and dancing have been the favourite past time of the people of Indus valley. The great bath of Mohenojo-daro conveys the fact that swimming also was an important sport.



(Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

These relics of dices and marbles reveal that people played games which involved the use dice and marbles. The stone slab relic resembles the modern day chess, and literature review throws light upon the fact that this game was very much prevalent during the Indus valley period. The existence of hunting, punching or boxing as other forms of sports of the people of Indus valley practiced is evident from the seals recovered from the sites of Indus valley.

One very prominently appearing fact is that the forms of games that we see now a days , had existed thousands of years back, proving that the games have innovated over period of time and secondly, sports and recreation was given equal importance back then. 

By Dr Srividya K

Sunday, July 30, 2017

UNDERSTANDING PLAY, INDIAN PERSPECTIVE.

Play is of utmost importance as it contributes to the physical, social, cognitive and emotional well being of a child as well as adults too. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights have recognised play as a right of every child. Looking back at the blogs that have been written, all of it traces the history of play in the western civilisation, and it’s very evident that the westerners did realise the value of play in a child’s life, and going forward play has been recognised as a right by the UN.

Tracing the history of play of western civilisation has been effortless as all the literature is available at a click. Tracing the history of play of Indian civilisation has been a herculean task, and it’s amazing to know that history of play in India can be traced to the 2500 BC, that is during the Indus Valley Civilisation period.

Meera Oka, et al., conducted a study on “A profile of children’s play in urban India”, where inferences can be drawn regarding the value and meaning of play in the Indian context which is a little different from the western context. Play has been described at two levels, one is ‘Bal Leela’, play viewed at a micro level,  is the most important feature and typical of childhood, on a day to day basis. ‘Leela’, at the macro level, is viewed philosophically, to understand the very nature of human existence, which views the entire universe as a creation and play. Analysis of commentaries from scriptures of Madhavananda (1978), Nikhilananda (1987), White(1994), Parthasarthy(1990); as well as poets like Kabir, Tagore, Ramdas and Rahim, suggest that child’s play are the antecedent of philosophy. These eminent authors viewed child’s play from two perspectives. One is appreciating a child’s prudence of getting into and out of play. The second perspective highlights upon the manner in which children engross themselves in play not bothered about their surroundings. Here are few excerpts as taken from the study conducted by Meera Oka, et al to help understand the link between philosophy and play.

Madhavananda’s commentary on ‘Bhagwat’:
As a child does while playing one should be completely absorbed and dedicated to the activity one undertakes and yet have the awareness of its temporary nature, and of life itself.

Nikhilananda’s translation of ‘Atmabodh’:
During childhood one is completely lost in play, during adolescence in studying, and during adulthood in home and responsibility, so where is the time to attend to God!

 Madhavananda’s commentary on ‘Vivekachudamani’ :
A child plays with its toys forgetting hunger and bodily pains…. Exactly so does the man with real knowledge take pleasure in reality, without ideas of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ (as in possession).

Kabir’s poem:
Worship, service, holy fasts and conduct that conforms, to canonical law….
Are like a girls’s play with her dolls,
To give up this make believe will be hard…

Tagore’s poem:
Tempest roams in the pathless sky
Ships get wrecked in the trackless water
Death is abroad and children play.


With this introduction to Indian perspective of play, let’s look at the concept of play during the Indus Valley civilisation in the next blog.

By Dr.Srividya.K