Pachisi

Pachisi, a game with equal measures of luck and skill, has been played in India for more than 1,200 years. Some Indian rulers liked the game so much that they built giant marble Pachisi boards in their palace courtyards. Akbar the Great, a Mogul Emperor who ruled from I556-I6o5, played on a huge board of red and white squares.

In the center was an enormous stone platform where Akbar sat. He and his friends actually played the game with young slaves from his harem as playing pieces! Each player had 16 girls, dressed in different colors, who moved along the squares on the board according to the numbers thrown on the cowrie-shells used to play the game.

The name “Pachisi” comes from the Indian word for twenty-five, which is the highest number that could be thrown on the cowrie-shell dice. Today, Pachisi is also played in Indian homes and cafes, usually on boards made of decorated cloth that can be rolled up and carried about.

Eventually, Pachisi became known in Europe, where it was men¬tioned as early as 1694 by the Englishman Thomas Hyde in his famous book De Ludi.r Orientalibus (Games of the Orient), which is one of the first books ever written about games.