A Rare Egyptian Faience Game Piece of a Captive, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1550-1295 BC


As in Egypt today, games of chance dominated leisure time in antiquity as demonstrated by the four sets of board games and associated pieces found among the treasures in the tomb of Tutankhamen. During the New Kingdom, game
boards were most often marked out in a grid of twenty or thirty squares, with the thirty-square game of senet soon coming to symbolize the interaction of skill and fate in securing a good afterlife (anticipating by some three thousand years the
medieval image of playing chess with Death) . Such bloodless conflicts of skill were often given the flavor of a military campaign and associated with the fight for divine order against the enemies of kingship. This explains why several of the
casting sticks in the tomb of Tutankhamen carry images of bound Nubians and Asians, a theme similarly taken up here. [Spur (27))

This superb example, in bright, blue glazed faience, depicts the nude male captive shown kneeling, hands and feet bound behind his back.

cf: Spur (27) p. 35 no. 43 Bound Captive Amulet DYN 18 Eton College Inv. r. ECM 929 (IP)
Sothebys New York 28 Nov 1990 Lot 187 Faience Gaming Piece (IP)

Louvre Museum, A Semitic prisoner, hands tied. Pawn for a game. New Kingdom (16th-11th BCE), Egypt. Reference: E1660

Dimensions:  Height: 1 1/4 inches (3.18 cm)

Condition:  Intact and in excellent condition overall, a very rare example.

Provenance:  Private Virginia collection, acquired from Royal Athena Gallery and previously JME collection, NY, acquired Charles Ede, London, Jul 1998, previously Sotheby's London 11 July 1988.

Type: Archive

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