In search of Gy ān Caupa ṛ bo ards

Adheesh Sathaye adheesh1 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 31 23:34:29 UTC 2012

One might also wish to consult the publications (and person) of S. Y. Wakankar, formerly of the Oriental Institute, Baroda, and currently working at the Jain University, Bangalore, who has worked on Ganjipha and other premodern South Asian games, and has a particularly rich knowledge of relevant Skt MSS at Baroda.

Wakankar's works are published mainly in obscure Indian journals and books, and while I don't have any references at the moment, he may be reached easily by email at: <sywakankar at>.

And perhaps you have already consulted and seen the Jain boards on display in the museum at the Kailasasagar-suri Gyan-mandir at Koba (Gujarat)? They are a wonderful specimen, and their MSS collection would undoubtedly be a good resource. (see for more details). 

All best wishes,


Adheesh Sathaye
Department of Asian Studies
University of British Columbia

On Oct 31, 2012, at 3:05 PM, Jacob Schmidt-Madsen wrote:

> Dear Allen,
> The boards in Topsfield's "Art of Play" were already published in the articles mentioned by me, the difference being that the reproductions in the former are better quality and - most importantly - in color. All in all, it is a beautiful book.
> And yes, I would love to know of any boards in your possession (or vicinity). I will make sure to remind you.
> All the best,
> Jacob
> Allen Thrasher skrev den 2012-10-31 22:20:
>> Dear Jacob,
>> Andrew Topsfield has made a personal collection of these and also
>> published a full book dealing with them:
>> 		 2006345042
>> [1]
>> 		 Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
>> 		 The art of play : board and card games in India / edited by
>> Andrew Topsfield.
>> 		 Mumbai : Marg Publications [on behalf of the National Centre for
>> the Performing Arts], c2006.
>> 		 168 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), 1 col. map ; 32 cm.
>> 		ISBN:
>> 		 8185026769
>> I own or used to own a couple myself, that is to say, I can't
>> remember at the moment if I have already donated them to the Library
>> of Congress or not. I will check and get back to you. If you don't
>> hear from me after a few weeks please remind me off the list.
>> Allen
>> -------------------------
>> FROM: Jacob Schmidt-Madsen <jacob at FABULARASA.DK>
>> SENT: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:54 PM
>> SUBJECT: [INDOLOGY] In search of Gyān Caupaṛ boards
>> Dear list,
>> I am currently conducting a study of traditional Indian Gyān Caupaṛ
>> (skt. jñānapaṭṭa) boards used to play a kind of instructional karmic
>> game destined to become the precursor of Snakes and Ladders. I have
>> found a number of photographic reproductions of various boards (Jain,
>> Vaiṣṇava, Śaivite, Muslim) in the following publications:
>> * Shimkhada, Deepak (1983) "A Preliminary Study of the Game of Karma
>> in India, Nepal, and Tibet" in Artibus Asiae 44:4, p. 308-22.
>> * Topsfield, Andrew (1985) "The Indian Game of Snakes and Ladders" in
>> Artibus Asiae 46:3, pp. 203-26.
>> * Topsfield, Andrew (2006) "Snakes and Ladders in India: Some Further
>> Discoveries" in Artibus Asiae 66:1, pp. 143-79.
>> A reproduction of a Tibetan board also appears in Mark Tatz and Jody
>> Kent's "Rebirth: The Tibetan Game of Liberation" (New York, 1977),
>> while a somewhat new-agy recreation of a Vaiṣṇava board is found in
>> Harish Johari's "Leela: The Game of Self-Knowledge" (Vermont, 1980).
>> Several of the boards in the above publications also appear as
>> illustrations in more popular books on ancient Indian board games.
>> Owing to the fragile material (cloth, paper) and relatively careless
>> handling of the boards, they are apparently few and far between (the
>> oldest known versions dating to the late 18th century). I would
>> therefore be very interested in learning about the existence of boards
>> (published or not) hidden away or on display in places where I have
>> not yet looked.
>> My present focus is on 72-square Vaiṣṇava boards as they seem to be
>> the more numerous and widespread (with 84-square Jain boards running a
>> close second), but news of any kind of boards unknown to me would be
>> heartily welcomed.
>> Kind regards,
>> Jacob
>> Jacob Schmidt-Madsen
>> Assistant Teacher, Department of Indology
>> University of Copenhagen
>> Links:
>> ------
>> [1]

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