Board for the game of Gyanbazi
painted cloth backed onto linen
India, probably Rajasthan, c.1800
Framed dimensions: 56.3 x 50.5 cms
A fine and early Gyanbazi, painted in colours on cloth. The piece has been well conserved, probably in the mid-20th century, and is now framed and backed onto linen. There are visible fold marks and water stains, although the piece is now clean and stable.
The game of Gyanbazi developed in India during the 18th century, and was particularly popular at the courts of Rajasthan. The origin of the game of Snakes & Ladders, Gyanbazi was a quasi-religious game of morality, with the players ascending ladders to a higher plane or sliding down snakes to a lower, depending on the choices made in response to a variety of moral questions posed in the game. Popular with all religious groups, the pavilion at the top of the image represents the heavens, and suggests that this piece is associated with the Jain community.