Imágenes de página
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

longitude and latitude he names, that the site of the Ocellum was at Flamborough. He considers the word Ocellum to be derived, not as Dr. Drake, from ocellum or rather ocellus, a little eye, the only meaning attached to which was the imaginary erection of a watch-tower on the spot, but, as Camden, from the British word y-kill, signifying a promontory. In pursuit of the same theory, Drake derived Spurn point, the extremity of Holderness, from the Saxon spyrian to look out; but Mr. Todd considers it as only the abbreviated or remaining portion of the old name Ravenspurn, of which the first syllable is derived from the same root as rain, and the latter from the same as bourne, a brook: making the name synonymous with that of a rivulet in Kent near the metropolis. The Petuaria of Ptolemy, is placed by Mr. Todd at Attar near Patrington; and the Ocellam promontorium "ad extrema Brigantum," as well from its situation, and its gigantic aspect from the sea, is evidently Flamborough Head. The name of Flamborough must have been given to it by the Danish seamen; they have a Flemburg in Denmark; the word Flem in Danish signifying water.

CHESSMEN CARVED IN We have already noticed, on more than one occasion, and particularly in our Magazine for December, p. 551, the remarkable curiosity of a large number of ancient Chessmen, which were found last year on the shore of the Isle of Lewis. They are now deposited in the British Museum; and must certainly be accounted among the most valuable specimens of ancient art, which that Institution, so rich in most departments, though not so rich as we should wish it to be in our native antiquities, contains among its stores. We have no doubt, therefore, that our readers will peruse with great interest the following abstract from an elaborate memoir ou this subject, written by Frederic Madden, esq. F.R.S. and F.S.A., and recently published in the twenty-fourth volume of the Archæologia, accompanied by outline engravings of all their varieties in form and ornament.

Mr. Madden commences his essay with some historical remarks on the introduction of the game of Chess into Europe. The origin of the game of Chess, he observes, like the origin of Romance, has been the subject of frequent discussion, and for a long period seemed to be enveloped in nearly equal obscurity. But, in tracing the former, we possess one considerable advantage over those who have discussed the source of fiction in the middle ages-the acknowledged fact, that the game of chess could not have been produced by more minds than one, although it may subsequently have been mo


May 24. H. Hamilton, esq. V. P. The reading of Mr. Todd's paper was concluded. It was accompanied by some sketches of Roman urns found, together with a large quantity of human ashes, at Blackburn.

Mr. Samuel Woodward, of Norwich, communicated a series of drawings of various remains found in East Anglia, which, in his opinion, may be strictly called Icenian antiquities. They consist of the following domestic and military instruments and utensils querns, of three kinds; hammers, formed of natural perforated stones; mallets; celts, of fliut, the larger sort for forming canoes, by scooping out trees charred with fire, and the smaller for flaying animals; celts of brass, some hollow to receive handles, and others grooved at the sides, to fit on a cleft stick; also pottery; beads, the manufacture of which evinces a considerable skill in chemistry; bone instruments for puncturing the skin, or tattooing; bronze swords; horseshoes; spear-heads, of bronze, which, were they not found with the celts, might be considered the production of a more refined period; others of fliut, and beautifully formed arrow-heads of the same material.


dified, improved, or altered, according to the genius or habits of the people by whom it was adopted. It is sufficient, therefore, at present to assume, on the authorities produced by the learned Dr. Hyde and Sir William Jones, that for the invention and earliest form of this game we must look to India, from whence, through the medium of the Persians and Arabs (as demonstratively proved by the names of the chess-men), it was afterwards transmitted to the nations of Europe.

The strongest proof that the game of chess was introduced into France during the period of the Carlovingian dynasty, is to be found in the ivory chess-men still preserved in the Cabinet of Antiquities, in the Bibliothèque du Roi at Paris, which have been hitherto regarded too lightly. The King and Queen are each represented sitting on a throne, within an arched canopy, of a semicircular shape, supported by columns, and on either side of the King two male, of the Queen two female personages, are seen in the act of drawing aside a curtain. The King holds a sceptre in his hand, and the Queen an oval ornament, probably intended for the mound. The dresses and ornaments are all strictly in keeping with the Greek costume of the ninth century; and it is impossible nut to be convinced, from the general character of the figures, that these chessmen really belong to the period assigned them by tradition, and were, in all probability, executed at Constantinople by an

Asiatic Greek, and sent as a present to Charlemagne, either by the Empress Irene, or by her successor Nicephorus.

The number of the chess-men discovered in the Isle of Lewis, exclusive of the fourteen table-men or draught-men, and the fibula found with them, amounts to sixtyseven; of which number nineteen are pawns, the rest superior pieces. Of these, six are Kings, five Queens, thirteen Bishops, fourteen Knights, and ten pieces which Mr. Madden designates by the title of Warders, which here take the place of the Rook or Castle; forming, altogether, the materials of six or more sets. For the sake of distinction, part of them were originally stained of a dark red or beet-root colour; but, from having been so long subject to the action of the saltwater, the colouring matter, in most cases, has been discharged. The pieces vary also in size, according to the sets of which they formed a part; and, although so many remain, it is difficult at present to select even two sets which correspond exactly.

I. The KINGS, in point of costume and attitude, nearly resemble each other. They are represented as elderly men, with large spade-shaped beards, moustaches, and hair falling in plaits over the shoulders, having low trefoil crowns on their heads, either plain or ornamented with a border, and sitting on chairs of a square form, with high backs, which are richly carved with various scrolls, figures of animals, interlaced arches, and tracery work, in the best style of art of the twelfth century, as seen on monuments and in manuscripts. Their dress consists of an upper and an under robe, the former of which, or mantle (clamys), is thrown in folds over the left arm, and left open on the right side as high as the shoulder (where it is fastened by a clasp), for the purpose of leaving the arm free. This was the usual and most ancient form of regal dress, and is every where presented in the MSS. and seals of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as in those of England, Scotland, France, and Germany. Each of the figures holds a sword with both hands across his knees, as if in the act of drawing it, according to the old mode assigned to royal personages.

II. The QUEENS are also represented sitting in chairs, ornamented in a style similar to those of the Kings, and crowned. From the back of the head of each hangs a species of hood, which spreads over the shoulders, and was worn universally by ladies of rank in the middle ages, as is. proved by MSS. and monuments, particularly of the Franks and Saxons.

The same head-attire is shown in the monuments of Sweden and Denmark. From the shoulders to the feet haugs a long mantle, which shows in front a sub-garment or gown. The sleeves of this, like those of the Saxons and Norman French, are short, with a worked border, and from the elbow to the wrist is a series of plaits, resembling

bands, which probably were wound round the arm. Most of the figures are represented in a contemplative posture. The head rests upon the right arm, which is supported by the left. This is the case with three out of the five instances; but in one, the left hand holds a drinking-horn, curiously shaped.

From these pieces Mr. Madden is enabled to speak confidently as to the very early appearance of the Queen in the European chess-board, and consequently to reject the fictions of those writers who have ascribed it, at a comparatively recent period, to the French, from some fancied familiarity of sound between Fierce or Fers, the old Norman and English term for the Queen (corrupted from the Arabic Pherz, Persian Pherzin, a councillor, or vizier), and the French Vierge. The same fact is proved by the set of chess-men belonging to Charlemagne. It is to the Greeks, consequently, we should ascribe the merit or blame of metamorphosing the minister into the Queen, and by that means introducing so strange an anomaly as the promotion of a foot-soldier to be a lady. Freret and Le Grand have attributed this innovation to the galanterie chevaleresque of the middle ages, which subsequently rendered the Queen the most important piece on the board; but, in truth, this change must have been nearly coeval with the first appearance of the game in Europe, and the restricted move of the Fierce, or Queen, to one square, certainly continued to be observed till the beginning of the sixteenth century. Further evidence of the ChessQueen having existed in the twelfth century, is found in several poems of that age.

[ocr errors]

Although the term of Fierge, Fierce, Ferz, or Fers, seems to have been more usually employed than that of Queen, from the 12th to the 15th century, both in France and England; yet the title of Queen was never wholly laid aside, and was finally resumed in England in the reign of Henry the Eighth.

III. THE BISHOPS.-Five of these are represented sitting in ornamented chairs, like the King and Queen; but the remaining eight are in a standing posture. Their dress is of two descriptions. All of the sitting' figures, and four of the standing ones, wear the chasuble, dalmatic, stole, and tunic, of the form anciently prescribed, and corresponding with representations of much greater antiquity. The remainder have a cope instead of a chasuble, but omit the stole and dalmatic. On the back both of the chasubles and stole are various crosses or ornaments. The mitres are very low, and in some instances quite plain, but have the double band or infule attached behind. The hair is cut short round the head. They hold a rosier with one, or both hands; and in the former instances, the other hand holds a book, or is raised in the attitude of benediction.

[ocr errors]


Chessmen carved in the Twelfth Century.

Here again, as in the preceding instance of the Queen, we learn with certainty the introduction of the Bishop into the game of chess at so early a period as the middle of the twelfth century. The original name of this piece among the Persians and Arabs was Pil, or Phil, an elephant, under the form of which it was represented by the orientals, and Dr. Hyde and Mr. Douce have satisfactorily proved that hence, with the addition of the article al, have been derived the various names of alfil, alfino, aufin, &c. used by the early Spanish, Italian, French, and English writers. With regard to the _period when the Bishop first took the place of the Elephant, authors are silent, nor has any evidence occurred to determine. But that such a change is of great autiquity not only is apparent from the figures before us, but from a Latin poem of the twelfth century, in which the piece is termed Calvus, an evident allusion to the monkish character. Among the Northern nations we find that the Russians and Swedes retain the original appellation of Elephant, (but Weickmann, in his work Die grosse Schach Spiel, fol. 1664, terms it Gaistlicher, i. e. bomo spiritualis); the Germans call it Läuffer, the Leaper, from the ancient mode of taking over an intervening piece, and the Poles Pop, Papa, or Priest. But it is particularly deserving of remark, that among the Icelanders and Danes this piece, from the most ancient times, has always been termed Biskup.

IV. The KNIGHTS are whole-length


figures, mounted on horseback, and are, perhaps, the most interesting portion of the whole. They are habited in long coats or gambesons, which hang in folds as low as the feet, and the sleeves terminate with a cuff or border at the wrist. The leg has apparently a covering of some sort down to the ancle, where it is met by a species of halfboot, without spur. Their helmets, with a few exceptions, (see the cut of the flattest or pot shape) are of a conical shape, and mostly with nasals, and round flaps to protect the ears and neck.

A loug kite-form shield, suspended from the neck, hangs on the left side of each, ornamented with various devices, approaching in some instances very closely to heraldic distinctions.

Beneath the shield appears the sword, which is fastened round the waist by a belt, and in the right hand of each knight is a massive spear. All the figures have large beards and moustaches, and the hair is cut The horses round, a little below the ears.

are caparisoned in high saddles, plain or ornamented (see cut); saddle-cloths, curiously bordered, stirrups, and bridles. The mane is cut short, and the hair suffered to grow down on the forehead. The beard of one of the figures is divided into three forks, instead of being round like the rest, and the flaps of the helmet are longer. These peculiarities, with the mode of wearing the hair behind, may be seen in these representations:

The name and move of the Knight have always remained pretty much the same. On the chess-boards of the 13th century it appears of this form, which, in truth, is a rude representation of the head of a horse, intended as an epitome

of the whole figure, in the same manner as the mitre represented the Bishop. In Caxton a very similar, but clumsier, form is given. Hence the name of Horse bestowed on this piece by the Russians, Swedes, and some other nations. Hence, also, the pe

culiar form often given to the modern Kaight, which is as early as the time of Queen Elizabeth, or earlier, since Rowbotham speaks of the Knight as having his top cut aslope, as though beynge dubbed knight. Among Charlemagne's Chess-men, if Dr. Hyde is to be depended on, it is repre sented under the form of a Centaur.

V. The WARDERS. These are armed warriors (Hrókr, in Icelandic) which here take the place of the Rook or Castle. They are represented in a standing attitude, attired in helmets of various shapes, but chiefly conical, with or without flaps, and wanting the nasal. The coat or gambeson which most of them wear, descends to their feet, but in lieu of this others have a coat of mail, with a hood which covers the head. They all hold a shield in one hand and a sword in the other, but the position is varied, either in front or at the side. The shields all hear distinctive marks, like those of the Knights, but some of them are of a much broader shape, and less elongated.

In one of them the hood covers the head, without any other protection; the mail forming a sort of fold at the back of the neck, which may be occasioned by a band fastening it within.

The most ancient form of this piece after the game arrived in Europe is very uncertain, but seems to have been that of an elephant, as shewn by the set of chess-men belonging to Charlemagne; and this form, with or without a tower on the back, has been retained by the modern Germans, Russians, and Danes. The Spaniards, Italians, French, and English, in more recent times, adopted a tower or castle, as an epitome of the figure (in the same manner as they took a horse's head for the Knight) and hence arises the strange anomaly of a Castle rey presenting the swiftest piece on the chessboard. But the earliest form offered to us in MSS. occurs in an Anglo-Norman poem of the 18th century, and is preserved on the ancient seals of those families, both in England and Germany, who bear ChessRooks for their arms. One instance of this is the seal of John de Rokewode, attached to a deed dated 37 Edw. III., in the possession of John Gage, Esq. Director S. A.

[blocks in formation]

The figure of an armed soldier or Warder, presented by these chess-men, has been found in none of the descriptions of the game as played in the south of Europe, nor has it occurred in any MSS. consulted by Mr. Madden. But among the Icelanders we find this piece actually so represented, and this remarkable fact goes some way, in Mr. Madden's opinion, towards the proof of the locality of these pieces. La Peyrere, in a letter written from Copenhagen to M. La Mothe le Vayer, in 1644, says: "The differences between the chess-men of the Icelanders and our own are these: Our Fools are with them Bishops, since they hold it right that the ecclesiastics should occupy the situation near the Kings. Their Rooks are little Captains, which the Icelandic scholars here call Centurions. They are represented with swords by their sides; and with puffed-out cheeks blowing a horn, which they hold in both hands." Without

entering further at present into the peculiarities here noticed, it will be sufficient to observe that the Icelandic term for this piece is Hrókr, which signifies a brave warrior or hero, and is evidently intended to represent the original Eastern term given to this piece. What then is this term? are we with Sir William Jones to go to the Hindu Roth', an armed chariot, or with Hyde to the Persian, Ruch, a dromedary, or with others, to the oriental name of the fabulous bird called Ruch, which makes a figure in the Tales of the Arabian Nights? My own conviction is, that all these derivations are false or doubtful, and that for the real meaning of the word, we must look to the ancient Persian Rokh, which, according to D'Herbelot, signifies a hero, or military adventurer. Should this be correct, we must conclude that the Icelanders alone, of all the European nations, have preserved the ge


Chessmen carved in the Twelfth Century.

nuine and original form of this piece, the antiquity of which, from the figures before us, will not admit of a doubt.

VI. The PAWNS. These are of various shapes and sizes, but chiefly octagonal. Two of them are ornamented, but the rest plain. The cut represents the smallest.

Mr. Madden then proceeds to prove, that these pieces were executed about the middle of the twelfth century, by the same extraordinary race of people, who at an earlier period of time, under the general name of Northmen, overran the greater part of Europe, and whose language and manners are still preserved among their genuine descendants in Iceland.

With regard to their material, it is assumed on evidence almost amounting to mathematical demonstration, that they are formed out of the tusks of the animal called in Icelandic Rostungr or Rosmar, and in other parts of Europe by the names of Morse, Walrus, or Sea-horse.

The estimation in which these teeth are held by the northern nations rendered them a present worthy of royalty, and this circumstance is confirmed by a tradition preserved in the curious Saga of Kröka Ref, or Kröka the Crafty, who lived in the tenth century. It is there related, that Gunner, Prefect of Greenland, wishing to conciliate the favour of Harald Hardraad, King of Norway [A.D. 1046-1067], by the advice of Barder, a Norwegian merchant, sent to the King three the most precious gifts the island could produce. These were, 1. a fullgrown tame white bear, 2. a chess-table, or set of chess-men, exquisitely carved; 3. a scull of the Rostungr, with the teeth fastened in it, wonderfully sculptured, and ornamented with gold.

The ancient Norwegians, and more particularly the natives of Iceland, seem to have been, at a very early period, famous for their skill in carving various figures and implements in bone, and this talent was exerted chiefly in sculpturing chess-men from the tusks of the Rosmar. "The Icelanders, who are of an ingenious turn of mind," says Olaus GENT. MAG. May, 1832.


Wormius, "are accustomed, during the long nights of winter, to cut out, by their fireside, various articles from whales' teeth. This is more particularly the case in regard to chess-men (at which game they excell); and I possess some specimens of these, distinguished by being of two colours, white and green, which are sculptured so exquisitely, that each piece expresses, in features, dress, and attitude, the personage it is designed to represent."

In proceeding to examine the costume of the chess-men, Mr. Madden remarks that the general dress of these pieces was common in the twelfth century to most of the European nations, and in the cases of the king, queen, and bishop, had scarcely undergone any change for several centuries previous; so that it will only be necessary to select such portions of the costume as may seem to require illustration, or which more particularly serve to point out a northern original.

The first peculiarity which arrests our attention, in looking at the figures before us, is the singular manner in which the hair of the kings is plaited in long wreaths over their shoulders. All the natious of Gothic

origin seem to have agreed in encouraging the growth of their hair and beard, but they varied from cach other, as well in the mode of wearing it, as in the care bestowed on its appearance. We learn from Tacitus, that it was peculiar to the Suevi, the most numerous of all the Teutonic tribes, to wreath their hair, and fasten it in a knot. Other nations, he adds, imitated them, but only those among them who had not passed their manhood, whereas among the Suevi, even to the time their locks became gray, they were accustomed to twist a mass of hair at the back of the head, and often bound it up to the top. Their princes wore it more ornamented, and only the men of free condition had the privilege of cultivating it. Hence their chiefs, in the time of Theodoric, were addressed, as a mark of respect, by the term hairy.' The old German mode of wearing the hair was carried by the Franks into Gaul, and Agathias thus characterises them: "It is the custom among the Franks, for the kings never to have their hair cut, but to nourish it from their childhood, and suffer it to spread over their shoulders and forehead; not in a squalid and negligent fashion, like the Avars, but carefully combed out, and cleaned with various medicaments. This is with them a special mark of royalty, and not permitted to the inferior classes.' It cannot fail to be remarked how well this agrees with the figures of the chess Kings before us, as compared with the Knights and Warders. The effigies also of the Frankish sovereigns, exhibited in Montfaucon, present examples of the plaited locks of hair precisely like those before us,

« AnteriorContinuar »