Traditional Sports - Kreeda

Chaupar

First described in ancient India, Chaupar or Chausar is played with sixteen pieces, three dice, and a “board” in the shape of a cross. Various rules and orders of play are followed.

Normally played with three long tabular dice, the word Chaupar means “that which consists of four roads, a crossroad” and refers to the crossroad-like form of the board.

Five, six, or seven cowries, a small shell, was also used to play this game. The value of a throw is determined by the number of “mouths” or clefts which are faced upward. When only five cowries are used, the highest throw is that with all five “mouths” up, which is valued at twenty-five.

If we look at the equipment used in playing chaupar, we find that the oblong dice and the cowries used in this game are as old as the third millennium B.C., while the four-armed board appears to be a development from much simpler gaming boards of the same period.

Though the first literary texts of India, we gather that dice-playing was a common failing of the upper classes. The Rig-Veda has references to the use of dice in gambling. Evidently, dicing was considered a fitting vice of Kings and royalty, and the ritualistic literature of the centuries following the Rig-Veda say the consecration ceremonies for a king included a game of dice - which the new king must always win. In the great epic Mahabharata, there are two famous instances of kings ruined by gambling.

There is also a story of a king who was so skilled in the ‘science’ of dicing that when his opponent threw these oblong dice in the air, he could tell before they struck the dicing-board whether or not the throw would be favourable, and if it would be to his disadvantage he would catch the dice before they landed and have his opponent repeat the throw.

There are simple forms of gaming-boards found in early archaeological sites, which are presumably prototypes of the boards used later. At Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley civilisation, a portion of a triple rowed gaming diagram on brick was recovered, dating perhaps from the last part of the 3rd millennium BC.