Saturday, April 15, 2017

Snakes and Ladders

Did you ever play the game "Chutes and Ladders" when you were a kid?

Well, this game has its origins in India! You can read more at Wikipedia:
The game was popular in ancient India by the name Moksha Patam. It was also associated with traditional Hindu philosophy contrasting karma and kama, or destiny and desire. It emphasized destiny, as opposed to games such as pachisi, which focused on life as a mixture of skill and luck. [...] The ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, and humility, while the snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder, and theft. The morality lesson of the game was that a person can attain salvation (moksha) through doing good, whereas by doing evil one will inherit rebirth to lower forms of life. The number of ladders was less than the number of snakes as a reminder that a path of good is much more difficult to tread than a path of sins. 
Here is a 19th-century board from India:

This one is circa 1800:

This example is from the late 18th century:

And this one is also late 18th-century:

I don't have a date for this board:

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