Velvet Pachisi game board

From Sri Lanka, 19th century AD

The game of Pachisi seems to have first appeared in India several centuries ago from where it spread to other parts of Asia, but also to Europe and Africa. In the nineteenth century, a simplified version was patented in Britain under the name of Ludo. Although the rules may vary slightly, it remains basically a game in which two teams of two players throw dice and race their pieces round a board in the shape of a cross.

It is not unusual for the board to be made of cloth: in this example, embroidery is used to create the grid on a background of fine velvet. It was collected in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) by Hugh Nevill, whose catalogue shows that he was interested in this object both as a game and as an example of what can be done with textiles. Nevill worked for the colonial administration in Sri Lanka from 1869 to 1886. He was interested in local folklore and collected many items relating to all aspects of daily life and ritual. Much of his collection came to The British Museum after his death.

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Velvet Pachisi game board

View of Pachisi board and counters

  • Detailed view of board from above

    Detailed view of board from above


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Museum number

Ethno 1898.7-3.735



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