I Ching and Arrows - On the Origin of Chess
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About a month or so ago, I was doing some research for my geeklist on classic Chinese board games and I came across a game I couldn't identify. It was called chūpú and it seemed to have some connection to the game Pachisi.

I consider myself a historian, an anthropologist and a ludologist (someone who studies games). As anyone in the field of ludology can tell you, you eventually come to the big question in the west - where did chess come from? I bought a book known as The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk. I felt that his explanation on the origin of Chess did not go back far enough and I was thus pushed to research further.

I eventually stumbled upon what I would like to call the Culin-Cox-Forbes theory. It is based around the research of Stewart Culin, Captain Hiram Cox, and Duncan Forbes. Together, they propose that Chess can be traced back to early divination practices performed with arrow shafts. From there, it possibly developed into a game such as Korean nyout which went on to become pachisi, then chausar, ashtapada, chaturanga, chatranj, and finally chess. This geeklist is an explanation of this theory and can be used by anyone interested in looking further into the study of chess and games in general.

I always believe in citing my sources so you can expect ALOT of quotes here - however many of them use an old style of writing and when chinese is used I will add the corresponding Chinese characters and pinyin that the authors omit in red as well as my own personal notes when needed.

I feel there is more info to be digested through The International Society for Board Game Studies but I have not had the chance to examine their publications as of yet.
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1. Board Game: Shades of Thought [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
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H.J.R. Murray was the first researcher I encountered who explained the Culin-Cox-Forbes theory in detail. However, he finds that the connections between the games are unbelievable as they focus purely on the cosmetic and there is not enough information to back such claims up.

Quote:
. . . Captain Hiram Cox propunded a new view in his paper On the Burmha Game of Chess (Asiatic Researches, London, 1801, vii. 486-511) by claiming that this four-handed game was the rudimental game of chess, and that the two-handed game was a modification of it. In the hands of Prof. Duncan Forbes (B. 1798, D. 1868) this opinion was further developed into a complete theory of the development of chess. Briefly stated, the Cox-Forbes theory is this: A primitive four-handed dice-chess was practised in India about 5,000 years ago. As a result of the action of certain rules, or from the difficulty of always securing a full quota of players, the game gradually became a two-handed game. At a later time the civil and religious ordinances against the use of dice led to the abandonment of the dice-character of the game; and finally, by a rearrangement of the pieces, the game of chess as known to the Persians and Muslims came into existence. . . . Another theory of the ancestry of chess has been put forward by Mr. Culin in his Chess and Playing Cards (Washington, 1898). He sees in our present games the survivals of magical processes adopted in order to classify according to the four directions objects and events which did not of themselves reveal their proper classification. Dice or some similar agent represent one of the implements of magic employed for the purpose. According to his theory, chess is a game derived from a game of the race type, and the steps of the ascent are (1) two-handed chess; (2) four-handed dice chess (chaturaji); (3) Pachisi, a four-handed race-game; (4) a two-handed race-game. It is there fore a development of the Cox-Forbes theory, which aims at carrying the pedigree still farther back. Culin's argument is thus stated (op. cit., 858):

The relation of the game of Chaturanga (i.e. the four-handed dice-chess) to the game of Pachisi is very evident. The board is the square of the arm of the Pachisi cross, and even the castles of the latter appear to be perpetuated in the camps, similarly marked with diagonals on the Chinese chessboard. The arrangment of the men at the corners of the board survives in the Burmese game of chess. The four-sided die is similar to that used in Chausar (i.e. Chaupur). The pieces or men are of the same colours as in Pachisi and consist of the four sets of men or pawns of the Pachisi game, with the addition of the four distinctive chess pieces, the origin and significance of which remain to be accounted for. By analogy, it may be assumed that the board, if not indeed all boards upon which games are played, stands for the world and its four quarters (or the year and its four seasons), and that the game was itself divinatory.

After stating that students of the history of chess do not now generally accept the Cox-Forbes theory, Mr. Culin continues:

Apart from this discussion, the relation of chess to an earlier dice-game, such as Pachisi, appears to be evident. The comparative study of games leads to the belief that practically all games as Chess, played upon boards, were preceded by games in which the pieces were animated by dice, cowries or knuckle-bones, or by staves, as in the Korean Nyout, the Egyptian Tab, and many aboriginal American games.

All students of the history of games owe very much to Mr. Culin for his investigations into the nature, implements, and rules of existing games. His suggestion that race-games may have originated in magical processes deserves consideration, and there is much to be said for his vew that dice-games preceded games of pure combination. But neither hypothesis has as yet been established as fact, and the further step in his argument which deals with the connexion of the war-game chess and the race-game pachisi is a very weak one. It has yet to be established that pachisi or chaupur is older than chess. Mr. Culin's argument depends too much upon resemblances which are only superficial, or can be explained equally satisfactorily in other ways. It shows signs of insufficient acquaintance with the known facts of chess history. The theory that Chess is a development of an earlier race-game involves the hypothesis that some reformer changed the whole nomenclature in order to make it self-consistent as a war-game, and secured the agreement of all his contemporaries. I find this hypothesis incredible.

From A History of Chess by H.J.R. Murray (pg 48-50)


Tony Burrett can be seen as a contemporary researcher who follows the Culin-Cox-Forbes line of thought:

Quote:
Many of our modern gaming implements-dice, cards, dominoes, even chess pieces-can be traced back to the ancient practice of divination by arrows or sticks. As the arrows began to be used in gambling, three general types of game evolved: games of chance, games of skill and pure guessing games. In guessing games the arrow shaft became a gambling stick, marked to denote rank. In Korea this later evolved into strips of oiled paper. The Chinese had similar strips, known as stick cards, which bore figures remarkably similar to those on our present-day court cards. Nowadays, of course, playing cards are often used for the same purpose as the ancient divination arrows from which they are descendd-that of fortune-telling. In games of chance the arrow evolved first into the astragalus-abone from the foot of a dog or sheep-and then into the die with which we are all familiar. There is strong evidence, indeed, that dice games were among the first, if not actually the first, games to be played by man. Dice of one sort or another have been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt and the Far East, and in prehistoric burial sites in both North and South America. In many early games the throw of the die controlled the moves of counters upon a marked playing surface, just as it does in many modern games. Later, when the die and thus the element of chance was omitted, games of pure skill, such as chess checkers and go, were developed.

From The World of Games: Their Origins and History, How to Play Them, and How to Make Them by Tony Burrett (pg 10)


His accompanying diagram is a little rudamentary at best, but it helps to convey the idea:

From "The World of Games: Their Origins and History, How to Play Them, and How to Make Them" by Tony Burrett (pg 11):


Joseph Needham, while studying the origin of the magnetic compass and its use in astronomical prophecy also follows the Cullin-Cox-Forbes theory although it becomes a little more complicated in his hands:

From "Science and Civilization in China", Volume IV, Part 1, by Joseph Needham (pg 331):
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2. Board Game: Arrows [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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Now I want to take a look at the Culin-Cox-Forbes theory starting at it's roots with the arrow and divination. This section will show the versatility of arrows - how they were able to develop into modern playing cards, and also how they developed into three different forms of divination - one of which would later go on to become modern-day chess.

Stewart Culin first discussed the importance of arrows and divination and their connection to the origin of board games. Take a look:

Quote:
The study of the games of Korea reveals the fact that there were two principal systems of divinations in Eastern Asia, from which games arose, in both of which the arrow or its substitute was employed as the implement of magic.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xix of the introduction)


How Playing Cards Developed from Arrows

Culin writes how arrows in Korea originally were marked to show ownership and who among hunters was the one who succeeded in kiling a wild animal:

Quote:
Examining the arrows used in Korea at the present day, they are found to occur in sets of five, each archer usually having three sets. The five arrows are number with Chinese characters from one to five. The arrows of each individual bear his name, also written in Chinese characters, and are further distinguished by colored rings as red, green, or black on the shaftment, by which the archer more quickly recognizes his own. At an early period in culture the arrow, marked with the designation of its owner, by which he recognized his quarry or the foe that fell before his arm, came to stand as his symbol and representative.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xix of the introduction)


From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg xx of the introduction):


Quote:
The Korean playing-cards again furnish the most direct evidence in Asia of the ceremonial use of the arrow in divination, which afterward became an amusement. They still bear representations of the feathers of the arrows from which they were derived.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xxii-xxiii of the introduction)


From Catherine Perry Hargrave's Book "A History of Playing Cards" (pg 6):


Qiúqiān - A Type of Divination Derived From Arrows

Culin mentions a chinese divinatory process:

Quote:
. . . in which arrows are shaken at random from the lot tube (quiver) . . .

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xxiii of the introduction)


Culin identifies this "game" as "ts'im t'ung" (pinyin: qiāntǒng (签筒) which literally means "stick cylinder". The actual act of using the qiāntǒng is known as qiúqiān (simp.求签, trad. 求籤 or 求簽) which means to "to seek a stick". When you "seek a stick", you shake out a numbered stick from inside the "stick cylinder". In Buddhist or Daoist temples, groupings of different fortune papers can be found. You match the number on your stick with one of the groups and take the corresponding fortune paper (籤詩, qiānshī or "stick verse") to see what your fortune is. Culin states that this would later develop into a type of lottery-game.

From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg xxiii of the introduction):
签筒 - qiāntǒng - "stick cylinder"

From Wikipedia - qiāntǒng (stick cylinder) and qiānshī (stick verses) used for qiúqiān (seeking a stick):


A fortune-ticket my girlfriend received from a Buddhist temple in Chinatown, NY:


There is another instrument used in qiúqiān known as jiào (珓). Stephen L. Field cites Richard J. Smith's book Fortune-Tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society for the following quote:
Quote:
After offering devotions to Huang Daxian, each supplicant asks for his help in solving a particular problem. The worshipper then shakes the bamboo container in a downward motion until a single stick falls away from the rest. He or she then removes it, and casts a pair of crescent-shaped bamboo or wooden blocks called jiao to see if the stick selected was the "correct" one. These jiao are rounded on one side and flat on the other. If both blocks land flat side down on the ground, the answer is no; if one flat side is up and the other down, the answer is yes; if both flat sides land facing upward, it means that the god is laughing--try again.

From "Ancient Chinese Divination" by Stephen L. Field, pg 127


Jiào - 珓 - From http://www.yuleshow.org/


Shìzhú - Another Type of Divination Derived From Arrows

Culin also writes about another method of divination that uses the Chinese book known as the Yì Jīng (I Ching) also known as The Book of Changes. This classic method of divination involves the separation and counting of sticks (often referred to in English as yarrow stalks):

Quote:
A method of divination with the entire bundle of arrows, which is quite intelligible, exists, however, at the present day in Korea, China, and Japan. In this system, called Eki (Chinese, yik (Yì-易-Change)) in Japan, the arrows are primarily employed as magical appliances to ascertain the number, place, or direction being discovered by counting. [...] As practiced at the present day in Japan, 50 slender, rounded splints of bamboo are employed. These sticks, called zeichiku (Chinese, shai chuk (筮竹-shìzhú-divinatory bamboo)), may vary in length from two to fourteen inches.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xxvi of the introduction)


From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg xxvii of the introduction):
筮竹 - Shìzhú - "divinatory bamboo"

He writes:

Quote:
It has been assumed without discussion that the zeichiku were originally arrows or arrow shaftments.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xxix of the introduction)


Divination with the shìzhú is done by seperating the sticks into two groups and counting them. This will allow the diviner to see if he has a yīn or yáng outcome (more on this in the next section). He then records this outcome using a series of blocks known as Suànmù (算木).

Unknown Source
算木 - Suànmù - "Calculating Wood"

How the Game of Nyout Arose from Divination with Arrow Staves

It is commonly believed that the game of Pick Up Sticks derived from shìzhú. Culin attributes the development of the game of Nyout to a form of divination in which two faced staves are tossed and their outcome is checked with a special book that can be connected to the I Ching:

Quote:
The second method of divination which has given rise to games is one in which several two faced staves are tossed and numerical counts attributed to their various falls. Of this, the game of Nyout is a striking and typical example. In Nyout, as in many similar games of the same order, direction or place is determined by counting around a diagram which may be regarded as representing the world and its quarter. Such games are found widely distributed throughout the world. In North America they occur in one form or another in almost every tribe, both East and West, and among the Indians of the South-western United States they exist with rules identical with those of Nyout, played with four staves upon practically the same diagram. The staves employed in one of these games, the Zhon Ahl of the Kiowas, enable us, from the arrow marks upon them, to refer to the origin of the staves used in America to the arrow. . . . It would appear probable from the American games that these staves were derived from arrows . . .

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (part xxxii-xxxiii of the introduction)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 1):


I would also like to propose an alternate theory that the sticks used in Zohn Ahl and Nyout may have been derived from suànmù or jiào as opposed to from arrows. Since many believe that shìzhú developed into Pick Up Sticks, then I see no reason as to why another game could be have come from similar divination instruments such as suànmù or jiào. The timeline of these items is anyones guess, but the main idea is that they could all be somehow linked, due to their similar nature.
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3. Board Game: Yut Nori [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:12105]
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From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 1):


Regarding the game of Nyout, Culin writes about how the game can be related to the I Ching. During a special holiday time of the year in Korea, Nyout is played and a special book is used called the zhìchéngfǎ (掷成法-"Toss-win-way"). He also includes an exerpt from the book titled zhìsìzhān (掷柶占-"Toss-spoon-divine"). He makes a connection between this book and the I Ching in that there are 64 possible combinations that can result from the throw of the Nyout blocks and that there are 64 possible forturnes that may result.

Quote:
While short blocks, pam-nyout, are used by children, and gamblers in cities, in the country, long blocks, called tiyang-tjak-nyout (Chinese, cheung cheuk sz' (長斫柶-cháng zhuó sì-"Long Chop Spoon")) or "long-cut nyout" are emplyed. . . . It is customary in Korea to use the long blocks at the 15th of the first month for the purpose of divination. Early in this month a small book is sold in the markets of Seoul to be used in connection with the blocks. The players throw the sticks three times, noting the number that is counted for the throw at each fall. The series of three numbers is then referred to the book, upon the several pages of which are printed in Chinese characters all the various permutations of the numbers, taken three at a time, Korean text explanatory of their significance. . . . The Chinese Book of Divination consists of 64 diagrams, Kwa (卦-guà-diviniatory trigrams), composed of combinations of unbroken ------- with broken lines --- ---, six being taken at a time, and the resulting diagrams being known as the Sixty-four Kwa (卦). Each of these 64 hexagrams is designated by a name and is accompanied by a short explanatory text. Now the Sixty-four Hexagrams are regarded as an expansion of the Eight Trigrams, called the Pat Kwa (八卦-bāguà-eight trigrams), or "Eight Kwa (卦)," formed by combining the same unbroken and broken lines three at a time. The unbroken lines in the diagrams are called yeung (陰-yīn), "masculine," and the broken lines, yam (陽-yáng), "feminine." It is apparent that if the two sides of the Korean blocks be regarded as representing the unbroken, or masculine, lines and the broken, or feminine, lines, the trigrams will form a record of the throws when three blocks are used, and the hexagrams when six blocks are taken. This I believe to have been their original purpose. I regard the diagrams as records of possible throws with two-faced staves, and the text that accompanies the hexagrams in the Yih King, (易经-yìjīng-The Book of Changes) to be explanatory . . . The Korean game of Nyout may be regarded as the antetype of a large number of games which exist throughout the world. Thus the diagram of the Hindu game known as Pachisi, or Chausar . . . will be seen to be an expansion of the Nyout circuit with its internal cross.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (pg 70-74)


Overview of the divinatory process.

Essentially, by throwing the Nyout blocks, you get a result of a unbroken or broken line known respectively as yīn and yáng (There are also "old" and "young" yīn and yáng but we won't go that deeply here). After throwing three blocks, you end up with one "guà" or one "trigram" which is a combination of three broken or unbroken lines. There are 8 possible cominations of broken or unbroken lines that you can end up with. The 8 combinations are known as the bāguà (literally "8 guà").

From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg 75):


When you get two guà and put them together, you get what is known as one hexagram. There are a total of 64 different results you can achieve from combining two guà together.

From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg 74):
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4. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
Taylor Liss
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After you form a hexagram, the next step is to consult the actual yì jīng (I Ching). The book contains all 64 hexagrams and each one is accompanied by a separate, usually ambiguous fortune along with commentary by famous scholars or interpretations that have been added on to it throughout the years. This is the version I have:

The Original I Ching Oracle: The Pure and Complete Texts with Concordance by Rudolf Ritsema & Shantena Augusto Sabbadini:


The traditional method for obtaining hexagrams is the yarrow-stalk or shìzhú / zeichiku method mentioned above. Modern day diviners use coins, throw blocks, or any number of other actions that result in a random outcome for divining.

As stated before, Mr. Culin is positive of the connection that the throwing sticks used in the Native Americans game Zon Ahl derived from the common arrow. However, he is not positive that the origin of the sticks used in Nyout likewise came from arrows. He proposes a theory tha the sticks used in Nyout may actually be descendants of a sort of imperial scepter known as guī (圭-"jade tablet").

Quote:
I have indicated the probable origin of the Pat Kwa (八卦-bāguà) or "Eight Trigrams," together with the Sixty-four Hexagrams in the scoring or recording of the falls of two-faced staves. It would appear probable from the Amerian games that these staves were derived from arrows, but the composition of the Chinese character for the name of the diagrams, kwa(卦-guà), as well as that for divination by means of the diagrams, kwa (卦), does not confirm this. Both are compounded of the character kwai(圭-guī-jade tablet), meaning the sceptres anciently carried by nobles, one with puk (卜课-bǔkè-art of divination) "divination" written on the right, and the other with shau (手-shǒu-hand), "hand," written on the left, the one with "divination" on the right indicating the result or record of the divination, the kwa (卦), and the one with "hand" on the left, the act of divining. I am not prepared to show that these ancient sceptres were originally arrows, nor yet to relinquish the belief that such was the derivation of the Nyout staves.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (pg xxxiii of the introduction.)


From Stewart Culins Book "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) (pg xxxiii of the introduction)

桓圭 - huán guī
信圭 - xìn guī
躬圭 - gōng guī

Photo I took of artifacts in Emperor Wan Li's tomb, North-West of Beijing, China. (Notice the gui in the upper-right corner):


A very diverse collection of gui can be seen at LunaCommons.org

Essentially, Stewart Culin does not have enough proof to say that these staves came from arrows, and that the nyout blocks came from these staves. This also doesn't rule out the possiblity that the staves may have existed along side Nyout blocks as separate entities with the same purpose. I admire Mr. Culin's desire not to jump to conclusions at this important cross-road. I also want to mention my theory on the origin of the Nyout blocks coming from the suànmù used in the shìzhú divination method.
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5. Board Game: Go West! [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:5626]
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So far I can see three theories on the origin of Nyout. The fist theory dictates that arrows may have developed into devices used for divination with the yì jīng (I Ching) and that this practice may have been used later for the game of Nyout. The second theory is that arrows developed into the guī staves used by Chinese officials and that these staves were used for divination and then eventually developed into the Nyout blocks for divination that were later used for the game of Nyout. The third theory (my own) is that arrows developed into suànmù and shìzhú used for divination and that the suànmù were then in turn used for the purposes of Nyout.

Whatever the case, the early establishment of Nyout and the side use of its pieces for divination is not an argued fact. What happened next was the transportation of Nyout to other areas of the world. There is a populalry believed theory that Nyout was taken over the Bering Strait and into North America where it developed into Zohn Ahl and then further on to Central america where it became Patolli.

Quote:
There is considerable evidence that North America was populated from North-east Asia and this theory is supported by Amerindian games. . . . The Cross and Circle pattern may be modified by omitting the cross. Many North American Indian games consist of a circle (often with vestigial remains of a cross) scratched on the ground, and the progress of pieces is controled by the throws of marked sticks. Zohn Ahl, played by the women and girls of the Kiowa Indians, Oklahoma, may be taken as representative. . . . The Cross and Circle can also be modified by omitting the circle. This happened in Patolli, the favourite gambling game of the Aztecs.

From R.C. Bell's book Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations (pg 3-9)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 4):


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 6)


The game may also have travelled as far south as the Mayan cities of Palenque and Chichen Itza.

Quote:
There is considerable evidence that in antiquity Nyout was taken to North America across the Berring Straits; similar Cross and Circle games, together with degenerate forms, are played by the North American Indians, the best known being Zohn Ahl. Boards cut into stone seats have been found in the ruins of the Mayan cities of Palenque and Chichen Itza.

From R.C. Bell's book Discovering Old Board Games (pg 14)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 3)


Evidence also shows that in addition to spreading to the Americas, Nyout spread westward and ended up in India. Along the way the circle was lost and the track was increased in width.

Quote:
In Asia the Cross and Circle game became variously modified as it spread westwards. The circle was invaginated against the side of the cross to form a bigger cross of three rows of squares. This increased the length of the track and removed the short cuts along the cardinals.

From R.C. Bell's book Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations (pg 8-9)


Quote:
Nyout also seems to have spread westwards, and was modified in India into Pachisi.

From R.C. Bell's book Discovoring Old Board Games (pg 14)


Quote:
The Korean game of Nyout may be regarded as the antetype of a large number of games which exist throughout the world. . . . the Hindu game known as Pachisi, or Chausar, . . . will be seen to be an expansion of the Nyout circuit with its internal cross.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (pg 75)

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6. Board Game: Discovery of India [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
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The original version of Pachisi in India did not use the blocks that were used for Nyout. Instead it used cowries, which are little shells. Later on, what are known as "long dice" would replace the cowries.

Quote:
[the game is] called Pachisi when played with cowries, and Chausar when three long dice are used.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin, (footnote at the bottom of page 75)


Quote:
The cowries may be replaced by three long dice . . . marked 1 and 6, and 2 and 5, on the opposing faces. If dice are used the game is called Chausar.

From "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" by R.C. Bell (pg 3)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 10):


Pachisi/ Chausar deveoloped into a variety of other games. It was picked up by the English and changed into Ludo and eventually into modern Parcheesi.

Quote:
About 1896 Pachisi was modified and introduced into England as Ludo, patent 14636, a cubic die being used . . .

From "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" by R.C. Bell (pg 3)


Quote:
Pachisi was modified and introduced into England under patent about 1896 as Ludo. The cowrie shells were replaced by a cubic die, and the pieces started their journey from outside the cross instead of from the centre.

From "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" by R.C. Bell (pg 16)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 12):


It is my belief that Chausar also spread back into China where it became known as chūpú (樗蒲). It is also my unfounded belief that this game would later develop to become modern Fei Xing Qi.

Quote:
Modern scholarship suggests that the only Chinese board games before the Christian era were simple games of alignment. Confucius (551-429 BC) mentions Yih, a smaller form of merels. During the first millennium AD Indian race games began to reach China along the trade routes, and the Hun Tsun Su, a work of the Sung period (AD 960-1279) mentions T'shu-p'u (樗蒲), a modification of Chaupur (Chausar), the ancestor of ludo, as entering China from India at the time of the Wei Dynasty (AD 220-65).

From "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" by R.C. Bell (pg 6)


Quote:
Two games, being modifications of the Pachisi, are so distinct as to acquire specific names, Chausar and Chauput . . . Hyde calls the game Tchupur, but he gives no rules for playing it.

From "Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play Them" by Edward Falkener (pg 262)


Quote:
Chinese records mention [Backgammon's] introduction from India with the name t'shu p'u (=Skr. chatush-pada, mod. Indian chaupur) as early 220-65 A.D.

From "A History of Chess" by H.J.R. Murray (pg 38)


H.J.R. Murray postulates a theory that Pachisi / Chausar may have evolved into another game known as Ashtapada.

Quote:
The ashtapada would seem accordingly to have been identical in shape with our chessboard or draughtboard, and so it is often translated, though the rendering is to be deprecated as suggesting to the ordinary reader that the board was used for a rudimentary form of one of these games. For draughts there is no evidence at all, for chess none before the 7th c. A.D. Still, the coincidence is so striking that it is worth while to try to discover what the ashtapada game really was, in order to see whether it has not some connexion with the rise of chess. . . . It seems clear that we have to do here with a game of the race-game class. We may find some confirmation for this conclusion from the comparative study of other Asiatic board-games in which dice are used to define the movements of men. In India itself there exist a number of examples of games of this class, of which the best known are the games pachisi and chaupur, which are played upon a four-armed board. . . . Probably the oldest and simplest Asiatic game of this type is the game for two players which we call backgammon. It is now played with little variety over all Southern Asia, from Syria to Japan. . . . It was possibly the desire to frame a game for four players on similar lines which led to the invention of the four-armed and square boards of which we have several Indian examples.

From "A History of Chess" by H.J.R. Murray (pg 33-39)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 51):


R.C. Bell mentions how Ashtapada was similar to another game known as Thayaam.

Quote:
In Ancient India a race-game called Ashtapada was played on a board of sixty-four squares . . . It was probably similar to Thayaam

From "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" by R.C. Bell (pg 51)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 17):


Jean-Louis Cazaux of http://history.chess.free.fr/ has proposed the idea that there may be a link between Ashtapada and the ancient Chinese game of Liubo:

Author's Rendition:


For consideration, there may even be a connection between these games and another Indian game known as Ashta-Kashte.

Quote:
It will thus be seen that though the form of the [Ashta-Kashte] board is different, the moves and rules are very nearly the same as those of Pachisi.

Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play Them by Edward Falkener (pg 266)


Ashta-Kashte Board - Unknown Source


Wikipedia claims that H.J.R. Murray wrote about a possible connection between the Ashtapada and another game known as Chowkha Bhara but the source is not cited. I have found a very descriptive blog called http://kreedaakaushalya.blogspot.com/ that describes many Indian games. You can see the rules it has for Chauka Bara here.

Chowka Bhara Board - From kreedaakaushalya.blogspot.com
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7. Board Game: Chaturanga [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:10051]
Taylor Liss
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As I see it, if the Ashtapada game board was used as a race game, it is no surprise how the game of Chaturanga emerged. If you keep the four separate colors as well as the long dice, and you remove the racing element, then it is easy to see the formation of Chaturanga.

From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 53):


It was from this game known as Chaturanga that the game of Chatranj would emerge. This would be the first game that can be clearly identified as having a physical resemblance to the chess of today. The die would be removed and the game would change from four players with 8 pieces each to game where there are two players with 16.

Quote:
The [Ashtapada] board contains 8x8 cells. It was on this board that the inventor of Chess arranged his game, and the Indian chess-board to this day preserves the crosscut cells of Ashtapada board although they play no part in Chess, and they have even survived the checkering of the board. . . . The invention of Chess did not interfere with the practice of the older race-game and both games continued to be played on the same board. . . . We only know how Ashtapada was played from existing games.

From A History of Board-games Other Than Chess by H.J.R. Murray (pg 129-130)


Quote:
Shaturanga players evaded the gambling laws by discarding the die and removing the element of luck. Other changes followed. One of the first appears to have been the amallgamation of the allied forces into a single army and the game for four players became one for two. This explains the duplication of the pieces in modern chess. About the same time the moves of the ship and the elephantswere transposed, the elephant moving diagonally two squares, while the ship, called in Sanskrit roka, assumed the powerful orthogonal moves of the ancient elephant. With these changes the game ceased to be Shaturanga; it had developed into the early medieval variety of chess, Shatranj.

From Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations by R.C. Bell (pg 56)


Quote:
[Chess], in reality, was not invented all at once, in a fit of inspiration by a single king, general, philosopher, or court wizard. Rather, it was almost certainly (like the Bible and the Internet) the result of years of tinkering by a large, decentralized group, a slow achievement of collective intelligence. After what might have been centuries of tinkering, chatrang, the first true version of what we now call chess, finally emerged in Persia sometime during the fifth or sixth century. It was a two-player war game with thrity-two pieces on a sixty-four-square board: sixteen emerald men on one end and sixteen ruby-red men on the other. . . . Chatrang may have been an import from neighboring India, where a similar game was known as chaturnaga - and that game may have been a much older import from neighboring China. The game probably evolved along the famous Silk Road trading routes . . . But there was something different about [chaturanga] and [chatrang]. In a critical departure from previous board games from the region, these games contained no dice or other instruments of chance. Skill alone determined the outcome. "Understanding [is] the essential weapon" proclaims the ancient Persian poem Chatran-namak (The book of chatrang), one of the oldest books mentioning the game. "Victory is obtained by the intellect." This was a war game, in other words, where ideas were more important and more powerful than luck or brute force. In a world that had been forever defined by chaos and violence, this seemed to be a significant turn.

From The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk (pg 17-18)


From R.C. Bell's "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations" (pg 56):


I should mention that I recently have come across an interesting painting of Indian women playing an unidentified board game. The game is for 2 players, yet each player seems to start with 3 rows of pieces.

Unknown painting, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film (click the picture for more details)
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