[INDOLOGY] Kalasaptaka and ardhagṛhiṇī

jacob at fabularasa.dk jacob at fabularasa.dk
Wed Jun 30 15:03:47 UTC 2021

Dear colleagues,

I am reading a text about a medieval Indian board game in which a throw 
of seven cowrie shells faceup is known as a_ kalasaptaka_. The throw 
either returns a pawn to the starting square or moves it forward to the 
finishing square (the text is unclear as to the precise meaning), after 
which the pawn (_varāṭikā_) becomes known as an _ardhagṛhiṇī_.

The interpretation of _kalasaptaka_ and _ardhagṛhiṇī_ as either positive 
or negative would solve the riddle as to whether the pawn moves 
backwards or forwards, but I am unsure about their exact meaning. 
_Kalasaptaka_ might be understood as a "weak seven" in the sense of an 
unlucky seven, or as a "sweet seven" in the sense of a lucky seven. 
Similarly, _ardhagṛhiṇī_ might be understood as "possessing half the 
(home) square" in the sense that only one more throw is required to bear 
off the pawn, or as "being half a housewife" in the sense that the pawn 
did not make it all the way around the board.

If you have come across any of these terms before, or if you have any 
insights into how they might best be understood, I would be very 
grateful for any suggestions.

Best regards,

Jacob Schmidt-Madsen
Postdoctoral Researcher in Indology
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen
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