Images of olden times


That seems realistic when you consider that numerous variants of shogi existed contemporaneously in Japan (see If 19x19 and 17x17 Go were indeed both played widely in China at the same time, it makes you wonder whether there was any distinction in who played which board size regarding social class or region. An interesting parallel can be found in the regional variants of chess rules which were found around Europe before last century, in particular concerning how pawns promoted.

As far as I know, no kifu of 17x17 games have survived, so that indicates that by the 17th century it had either died out as a board size or had been eschewed by professionals and the upper classes (who would be the ones recording their games).


Super interesting, thank you! :slight_smile:



Two images courtesy of, a page already mentioned by misjamig earlier in this thread.

“… an interesting Korean board, specifically an 18th–19th Century Sunjang Baduk board, hollow with tensioning wires underneath to make it resonate when played on. There are bowls and slate and shell stones of similar age.”

Hollow with tensioning wires, eh? I wonder what it sounds like when you place a stone… if one of our friendly neighbourhood DIYers wanted to have a crack at the same idea, I for one would be interested.

“… a 19th Century set of stones from Shanghai. The stones are small (about 1 cm diameter) and have Chinese characters on their face. They are contained in brown wooden bowls with patterned lids.”

The information page in the photograph further explains: “These boxes contain counter of pink or black glass for the game of weiqi.”

I wonder what exactly the characters engraved say: just “black” and “white” or something more abstract? Reminds me of the infamous Fly or Die server which is known for having kanji on its stones. What I notice about both these stones and the ones in my first image are that in shape they’re a lot more like relatively flat discs than the lenticular forms that we’re familiar with today. Perhaps that was the style of the time? Or it could reflect an easier method of production.


You can go to your neighborhood music store and place stones on a drum called a “cajon” (pronounced cah-HONE).
Here is a pic of the interior


That is so freakin’ cool. :slight_smile: Somebody needs to replicate that.



I didn’t see a date but I’m gonna guess this board was made before 1946 :persevere:


The swastika was a symbol all over the new world (pre-dating the Europeans), and all over Asia centuries before it was expropriated by the National Socialists. In the 1920s and 1930s, a swastika was present on most Arizona State Highway signs. Swastikas were used on Indian Head motifs used by American fliers in World War I.


Mogadeet’s factual explanation is probably correct in the case of this goban. There would have been little or no propaganda value to the production of gobans with the swastika emblem in Germany or the rest of Europe due to very low awareness of the game. And in Japan, it’s questionable why the government would create gobans marked with what was a foreign (although allied) crest.

However, there are two stories of when Go has intersected with politics. A John Fairbairn article that I once read, probably now off in some dusty corner of the Internet Archive, details how Go was prohibited from imprisoned Japanese officers in the postwar period on the grounds that it was a warlike game. They countered by saying that chess espoused bad principles as the king was a “cowardly” piece which relied on its subjects as it hid from the enemy.

The second item is an American theory - The Protracted Game: A Wei-Ch’i Interpretation of Maoist Revolutionary Strategy - from the time of the Chinese Civil War, which suggests that Go strategy can be used to explain the movements of communist forces. You can read about it in more detail at


Is there any more of this image available - a less cropped version?


I am no expert, but I was always led to believe, that budhistic good luck swastika would be depicted in counter-clockwise manner and usually sitting on the arm, not the corner. There is a clockwise version, yes, but it has different associasions and I am not sure it would make sense on a goban…

To me this really looks more like the german hakenkreuz :smiley:


The swastika occurrs in both forms, with negative and positive (clockwise and counterclockwise) orientation. As was already said, the symbol itself (both orientations) is very old (apparently over 6000 years). Old examples can also be found outside of Asia. A simple google search should convince you of that.


Not as far as I’m aware. This came up in Google images while I was searching for pictures of floor gobans before I designed my own.


I had imagined it may have been some sort of diplomatic gift from the third reich to their Japanese allies.
I know the Nazis loved to put the hakenkreuz on anything and everything, and the hoshi points look more elaborate than any Asian-made boards I have seen.
Not that I’m asserting my own opinion of history, but I think it’s interesting to speculate.


There are countless ways to draw a swastika, but if it’s at that angle and inside a circle and with that orientation it’s just a highly recognizable logo.
There could be many simple explications for a nazi goban.


Yes. Like Nazi scientists secretly pioneered time-travel, got stuck in the ancient past, and invented Go.


This says: “Korean goban in the Kunstkammer in St. Petersburg” (automatic translation)!

(under the first row of pictures, the one with olden gobans, click “load more” again and again)


Another image. Is there someone who speaks russian? :slight_smile:или-новое-о-гобане-из-кунсткамеры/


More detailed pictures:кунстакамера/


It’s possible. Or perhaps visiting Nazi officers in Japan developed a taste for the game and had it commissioned by a local craftsman. Or the Japanese could have made it as a gift for the Nazis; that is, the other way around from your post. We don’t know for sure with the information that we have to hand.

Putting aside the matter of the swastika, which has its own interest, I like the style of the hoshi marks on that board – they add just enough flavour without the goban becomng too ornate…


There are some good pics there, especially I like (not sure what those things are on the left, they look like clamshells after stones have been cut out) and