The research upon which the book is based includes an examination of all significant collections of material. Indeed probably every museum and private collection of note, and every book written (but usually) returning to the authority of Hyde (which is translated into English in my "Chess: Its Origins Vol II").
The material is classified according to the countries of origin of the designs. The style of their country and culture, and related to the topical preoccupations (political, military etc) of their historical period. The importance of the unique iconography e.g. From Cessolis to Caxton to Selenus etc., should be noted not only for its artistic merit, but also as a record of the attitudes of their day.
A theme of particular interest is the ability of chess designs to transcend cultural boundaries; the dissemination of these designs is viewed as an aspect of the transfer of artistic and other ideas from country to country. Specifically, the books provide an insight into the cross-fertilisation between Oriental and European traditions.
The history of chess, form and material, is a mirror of the history of development of sculptural forms of each country and which became a way of transporting ideas about form and material due to their portability. Through chess one is able to see cross fertilisation on form from within each country. Through the richness of the art of sculpture and carving in chess pieces one can see a microcosm of how the use of different materials spread through the world.
The books, together with the illustrations, explore the history of form and material as seen in the chess set. Chess is one of the few forms that has been used throughout the world for many years and so has transgressed cultural boundaries. Through chess we are able to see the oriental attitude to form material side by side with the European. Within years of each other sculpture traditionally was treated differently between East and West, however chess linked the two together.
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