Ouk Chatrang is the chess played in Cambodia. The chess played in Thailand is called Makruk. Makruk is one of more popular chess variants throughout the world, right up there with International Chess, Xiangqi, and Shogi. The pieces in a Thai or Cambodian set are quite different in style than Western chess pieces. Only the knight, represented as a horse head, is recognizable. Usually the height of the chess pieces relative to each other is also different, the knight being the tallest piece. I have seen sets made in the Cambodian or Thai style with Western piece heights. Major pieces resemble architecture; think of the Taj Mahal. I have heard tower tops in this style represent the busoms of women. Even with fine Cambodian ivory sets pawns can be simple cowrie shells. If pawns are carved they are represented as cowrie shells or simple checkers; they must be easy to flip over as pawn promotion is much more common in Makruk than international chess.

I got the idea in my head to create a Thai style set when I realized the major pieces could be represented by seashells. I was casting seashells already to create my more elaborate seashell chess set, and this simpler design came together easily. The pieces are cast copies of real seashells and my clay sculptures in cold cast metal. Of course I am aware of the pun. Here are a few pictures of the set:

Ty's Thai set... laugh it up.

Ready for Makruk?

Bronze knight. My sculpting is rough but I find the simple forms are attractive.

Nickel-silver queen and knight.

Bronze army.

Silver minor pieces.

More information on Cambodian and Thai chess can be found here.

Chess Sets I Made

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