Moro chess set - pre WW II - Philippines

The Moro chess set design is coming from the island of Mindanao of the Maranao Tribe in the Philippines. Traditionally here is a Muslim design chess set made, which can be recognized through its straightforward simple features. The Moro chess sets are so unique, because the production of these sets was cut off from the outside world of chess for quite a long time. The chess sets were often made of precious material, . such as Banati wood and Water-Buffalo sometimes with inlaid silver patterns. The chess sets were the proud possession of the owner, who carried it with him, however without a chess board.

The Moro chess set has very ornate knights, which make them easy recognizable. Every set has a different carved knight, but the okir carvings are very recognizable. Possibly the carvings incorporate the Sarimanok (= colorful (?) chicken) plumage which is a legendary bird of the Maranao people. The Sarimanok is also a sign of good fortune, very helpful in chess.

The Sarimanok is believed to have originated from the Garuda of Hindu epic Ramayana adopted into Maharadia Lawana  of Maranao people, which in turn was later adopted to an Islamic legend after Southern Philippines converted to Islam. Also in Bali Indonesia we find South East Asia chess sets with a Hindu influence.

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