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Middle or South American Figural Chess Set, 1950-2000

A figural chess set presumably from the second half of the 20th century and made in Middle or South America. The set is very large with a king size of 10 cm and massive and very heavy pieces (shown here on a chess board with squares of 8.5 cm / 3.35"). But apart from that I know little to nothing about it. The motifs seem to relate to the Aztec or Mayan culture. The pieces are - at least partly - made of wood and colourfully lacquered. I am not sure, however, if wood is the only material. It could be a material mix including also parts made of terracotta or clay. Further, I have no idea if my setup is correct, i.e. if all the pieces are associated with the right position.

All pieces are shown in a kneeling or sitting position. The kings are wearing a flat cap and are holding what seems to be a monkey. The queens are wearing a high helmet crown and ear jewellery. The bishops nude with erect penis wearing a traditional headdress and a rope around their neck. The knights very colourfully decorated wearing a high headdress with a sun symbol and a cape on their back in the shape of a bird spreading its wings as well as a fish hanging from their lower lips. The rooks as sturdy warriors wearing what seems to be a chain mail helmet and golden arm rings. The pawns as prisoners with a rope around their neck and their arms rope bound behind their back.

Description and photos by Holger Langer

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