Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012
In previous posts, we discussed the origins of chess in India centuries ago. For the final post of this blog, we turn to modern-day India, where chess remains as popular as ever.
The city of Banaras (or Varanasi), in Uttar Pradesh, India, is holy to Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is sometimes celebrated as the "City of Temples," of "Learning," or of "Lights." Located on the banks of the Ganges, it is also subject to relentless flooding.
Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Chess games are sometimes accurately represented in works of art, but that is not always the case. Consider, for example, this curiously theatrical photograph from the mid-nineteenth century.
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012
From the very moment of their discovery in 1831, the Lewis Chessmen have captured the imagination of all who encounter them. Local legend relates how the peasant who first unearthed them from a sand dune in Uig Bay ran for his life, fearing that they were sprites or elves. The chessmen have certainly worked their magic over the years, acting not only as inspiration to writers of fiction but also to filmmakers and the occasional museum curator.
Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012
Sir Frederic Madden (1801–1873), the man who orchestrated the purchase of the Lewis Chessmen, was one of the most accomplished curators in the history of the British Museum and Library (which were linked from 1753 to 1973). Madden first worked at the library in 1826 on the classified catalogue of printed books. His brilliance as a reader of medieval scripts and his great knowledge of manuscripts saw him rise to Assistant Keeper in 1828 before taking up the keepership of the Department of Manuscripts in 1837.
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011
Although the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is one of the iconic mammals of the Arctic, its evolutionary story actually began in the tropics. By adapting to cold conditions, the distant ancestors of walruses were able to prosper in the harsh conditions of the northern polar regions. This took time; walruses are distantly related to fur seals and sea lions, but they have been on their own as a separate lineage for more than twenty million years. Although moderately diverse in the past, the walrus family declined over time and is now represented by just one species.