Rare mid-19th century illustrated Indian volume commissioned by the 22nd Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, a board game fanatic, containing a compilation of board games and chess problems of his own devising, including his solution and multiple variations of the "Knight's Tour" problem. Profusely illustrated throughout, with the majority of the illustrations having been hand-colored. Some slight browning, minor edgewear, spine shaken, overall very good. 4to. Likely original cloth-backed boards. Wear to covers, peeling of paper covers, old worm damage to cloth, some chipping especially along edges. Mysore, India (Tarangini Mudrakashara Shaala) 1856 (Shaka Era 1778).
This volume is printed in an archaic 19th century form of Kannada, also know as Kanarese, using a hard-to-read ornate font and lacking the usual spaces between words found in more modern texts. Signficantly, the front flyleaf contains a blindstamp for "His Highness Rajah of Mysore/Maharajah Kristnaraj Wodayer Bahauder". Krishnaraja Wadiyar III ruled over the Kingdom of Mysore from 30 June 1799 to 27 March 1868, being installed as Maharaja at the age of only five years old.
The Maharaja's penchant for games was well-known. Murals painted in the Mysore Rangamahal (Hall of Color) during his reign include images of games. "The lower portion of both the northern and southern walls of the larger hall of the Rangamahal are painted with two squares exhibiting the game boards created by Krishnaraja III...; in the next layer of the images, working out from its center, are twelve game boards designed by Krishnaraja III...; the final layer consists of fourteen more game boards...taking up the corner frames. Krishnaraja III was known to be an avid gamer and game theoretician, and the centrality of these games in the mural is no surprise to those familiar with him...The games depicted on these walls are part of the entire series of gaming productions that were created in the Mysore court. Along with the mural paintings, there were multiple manuscripts that explained the rules of the games, provided strategic commentaries, and explained the philosophy of gaming within a cosmic perspective. There are at least nine manuscripts, ranging from the largest compendium...down to the smallest, the 'Mine of the Four Limbs [of Knowledge] (Chaturanga Sudhakarah)'". (Caleb Simmons, Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India, 2020)
A rare manuscript and fascinating document on board games from a devoted scholar of games and important historical figure. As of February 2020, WorldCat does not locate any copies of this manuscript, although one copy is known to be owned by the British Library.
Book ID: 50563