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Wikimedia Commons

A Pachisi board

What is commonly known as Ludo in today's world, comes from a more primitive form, called Pachisi. Translating to "twenty-five" in Hindi, this game represents the highest available score for each participant. Some game versions, however, have an upper limit of thirty.

Pachisi was a game that the ancient monarchs patronised in India. Emperor Akbar was known to play this game extensively. He even built a courtroom in the shape of the Pachisi board, which forms a cross. Slaves dressed in the colours of the players' teams would move as the pawns. Historical records show that other rulers too played this game when there were no royal decrees to be signed, or punishments and rewards to be handed out.


 He even built a courtroom in the shape of the Pachisi board, which forms a cross. Slaves dressed in the colours of the players' teams would move as the pawns. The court where Pachisi was played with human pawns Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pachisi was played with cowrie shells. The number of shells that fell face down indicated null points, while those that turned up when thrown indicated the number of places to move forward. There is an upper limit of four players, who can be differentiated based on the colours assigned to them. The colours usually used as red, black, yellow, and green. In South India, this game is played with Tamarind seeds and stones.

Research has shown that a variant of this game has existed in different civilisations. A moder-day German variant of Ludo Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Research has shown that a variant of this game has existed in different civilisations. Germany, Korea, China, France, Morocco, and even Syria has variations of this game. It is believed that the earliest mention of this historical game is in the Mahabharata, but the ideal of the game does not match the current rules. It is taught to children as entertainment, but adults still play this as a means to gamble. (VOA/RN)

Keywords: Pachisi, Ludo, Royal Game, Gamble


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