Gamesboard painted with arabesques

Gamesboard painted with arabesques

Gamesboard painted with arabesques
Italy, probably Venice
1570–90
Museum no. W.9-1972

This stunning gamesboard is made from lapis lazuli and ebony and is painted with arabesque decorations in gold. Lapis lazuli came from mines in Afghanistan and is another example of a luxury raw material imported to Europe from the Islamic world. For centuries Venice was the point of entry for eastern hardstones and as a result developed an industry for hardstone carving. The arabesque patterns that decorate the sides of this gamesboard seem to be copied from Islamic originals, such as lacquer bookbindings or the delicate designs of illuminated manuscripts that probably came to Venice from the Ottoman world.