India plays a special role in the birth of modern chess. Chatranga, the oldest form of chess, either came from India or through India from Persia. The idea that this game was played with 4 armies instead of 2 is a myth. The actual setup was exactly like modern international chess but some of the pieces moved differently. Notably the predecessor of the modern day bishop was the alfil, or elephant, capable of moving 2 squares and only 2 squares diagonally.  It could also leap pieces like the modern day knight. Though documents show this kind of chess being played at this time in India, no pieces survive. According to Gareth Williams, the earliest Indian pieces that survive today are Rajasthan pieces from around 1610. These are polychromed painted ivory pieces in a figural style. Kings and queens ride elephants. Minor pieces ride horses and camels or boats. Which piece is which is always a good question. Generally speaking if there are camels, they are the bishops; the elephants are the rooks. If there are boats, they are the rooks; the elephants are the bishops. This is not always the case. Of course if there are towers, those are the rooks. Bishops may be lions, oxen, or chariots (a hold over from ancient rooks?) in the fine ivory sets from Berhapmphore. It really depends where and when in India the set was made. Gradually, perhaps due to Western sets with elephant rooks, perhaps due to the higher power of the rook than the bishop, elephants swapped position with rooks in most Indian sets. The chess history site has a good explanation of this along with a table of what piece is what in what region of India today.

I have four 20th century Rajasthan sets and one lone king from a larger set.

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