Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Lost Game of Liubo Part 4 : Game Boards and Equipment



6. Liubo Boards and Game Equipment

A large number of Liubo boards and associated game equipment have been found as grave goods in Warring States period (476–221 BCE), Qin dynasty (221–207 BCE) and Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) tombs from all across China, from Beijing in the north to Guangzhou in the south, from Gansu in the west to Jiangsu in the east. Although far from every tomb from this period contains a Liubo board, Liubo equipment does seem to have been one of the standard items that was regularly included amongst the grave goods, and exquisite quality lacquered Liubo sets are especially common from the tombs of nobility from the Western Han period (206 BCE – 25 CE).


Map showing the distribution of Liubo boards and game equipment


The vast majority of Liubo boards are made from lacquered wood, frequently with the board design marked out with inlaid materials such as ivory, bone, horn or silver, but Liubo boards made from stone and bronze are also known. Due to the ease of decomposition of wood, in some cases the wooden Liubo board in a tomb has entirely decomposed away, but the associated game pieces, often made of more durable material such as jade or crystal, have survived as evidence that there was originally a Liubo set in the tomb.

Several tombs include an inventory of grave goods, and this helps identify the typical contents of a Liubo set, and what each component of the set was known as. On the basis of these inventories and the actual Liubo equipment found in tombs we can summarise what a Liubo set comprised :

  • 博 or 簙 . These are the six throwing sticks that were used to determine the player's move. They were usually made of thin bamboo rods split in half lengthwise (and coated with laquer or strengthened with metal strips or wire), so that when thrown the combination of rounded-side up or flat-side up sticks showed the move. The value of the move may have been determined by interpretting the six sticks as the lines making up a hexagram, with the rounded-side up representing a yang (unbroken) line and the flat-side up representing a yin (broken) line. Thus, each throw of the sticks would give one of 64 hexagram positions which would then determine how the game pieces were moved. Most sets include only six throwing sticks, indicating that the players must have shared the throwing sticks, although the de luxe set from Mawangdui includes twelve throwing sticks.
  • suàn. These are the counting rods that were used to keep score of the game. These were made out of ivory, silver, lead or bamboo, and were usually thirty in number, although there is some variation in how many counting rods are found in different sets.
  • . These are the game pieces that were moved around the Liubo board by the players. Most sets have twelve cubic or cuboidal game pieces of two colours (usually black and white), six for one player and six for the other player. They are made from a variety of materials, including wood, bone, stone, jade, crystal and ivory, and a Liubo set may include six game pieces made from one material and six made from a different material. In one case the game pieces are made of the same material, but differentiated by having a tiger engraved on one set of pieces, and a dragon engraved on the other set of pieces. There is some variation in the number of game pieces, with as few as eight pieces (2 × 4) or as many as eighteen pieces (2 × 9), and in some sets one or two pieces are a larger size than the other pieces.
  • 局 or 梮 . This is the game board upon which the game pieces are moved. Most boards are square with four short legs, but some boards are table-like with three or four long legs, and a very few are rectangular is shape. Some boards incorporate a compartment for storing the throwing sticks, counting rods and game pieces. All boards have distinctive markings which are referred to as 曲 , comprising a right-angled shape at each corner and at the centre of each side, and a square in the centre of the board, with a T-shaped protrusion on each side. Between each corner of the central square and the corner right-angle mark is a variable-shaped mark, most commonly a circle, but sometimes a square or a triangle or a four-leafed design or an animal design or simply a diagonal line.
  • 博席 bóxí. This is the mat placed next to the Liubo board upon which the throwing sticks are cast. As mats is made from perishable material they are not usually preserved, but they are shown in most pictures of Liubo players.

Typical design of a Liubo board



6.1 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Anhui

安徽天長縣三角圩19號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Wenwu 文物 1993.9 page 24 fig.52


Provenance : Tomb M19 at Sanjiaoxu, Tianchang, Anhui. {32.851°N 119.041°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid to late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board (42.0 × 42.0 cm.) with four low legs, decorated with red cloud patterns and four pairs of male figures facing each other. Two sides of the board are fitted with a drawer.
  • 18 silver counting rods (22.8 × 0.4 × 0.2 cm.) from inside the drawers.

References : 《安徽天長縣三角圩戰國西漢墓出土文物》 (《文物》1993.9).



6.2 Ivory Liubo game pieces from Beijing

北京大葆台二號墓出土象牙棋子8枚

Source : Beijing Daobaotai Hanmu 北京大葆台漢墓 (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1989) plate LVII no.1 (#183 through #188)


Source : Beijing Daobaotai Hanmu 北京大葆台漢墓 (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1989) page 53 fig. 56 (#184 and #190)


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Dabaotai, Beijing. {39.805°N 116.296°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid to late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Eight cuboidal ivory game pieces (3.1 × 1.5 × 1.2 cm.), four engraved with pictures of dragons on each face, and four engraved with pictures of tigers on each face.

References : 《北京大葆台漢墓》 (文物出版社, 1989年).



6.3 Wooden Liubo board from Gansu

甘肅天水放馬灘14號墓出土六博紋木板一件

Source : Wenwu 文物 1989.2 plate 2 no.2


Source : Wenwu 文物 1989.2 page 9 fig.22


Provenance : Tomb M14 at Fangmatan, Tianshui, Gansu {34.412°N 106.106°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Qin]

Description : Wooden board (12.7 × 5.8 × 0.3 cm.) with a painting of a tiger tied to a tree on one side, and a Liubo game pattern on the other side.

References : 《甘肅天水放馬灘戰國秦漢墓群的發掘》 (《文物》1989.2).



6.4 Wooden Liubo board from Guangdong

廣東廣州龍生崗4013號墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Guangzhou Hanmu (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1981) plate CXVI no.3


Provenance : Tomb M4013 at Longsheng Gang, Guangzhou, Guangdong. {23.137°N 113.295°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Eastern Han (25–220)

Description : Fragment of a lacquered wooden Liubo board.

References : 《廣州漢墓》 (文物出版社, 1981年).



6.5 Four Liubo sets from Guangdong

廣東廣州象崗山南越王墓出土六博具四套

Reconstructed Liubo board from the tomb of the King of Nanyue

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Four pieces of swirling cloud gold inlay from the sides of a decayed Liubo board (B33)

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Gold inlay from the centre of the top surface of a decayed Liubo board (B33)

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Six jadeite Liubo game pieces (B92)

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Six crystal Liubo game pieces (B74, B75, B93)

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Provenance : Tomb of King Zhaomo 趙眜 (r.137–122 BCE) of Nanyue at Xianggang Shan, Guangzhou, Guangdong. {23.138°N 113.259°E}

Current Location : Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE), 122 BCE.

Description : Remnants of two Liubo sets were found in the east 'ear' chamber (items with a B prefix), and remnants of two Liubo sets were found in the east side chamber (items with an E prefix) :

  • Bronze frame of an almost completely decayed brown lacquered wooden Liubo board with four short legs (B30, B42, B43, B44, B53, B54; circa 60.0 × 60.0 × c.13.0 cm.), together with thirteen pieces of gold inlay in the form of swirling clouds (B33; 11.0 × 4.0 cm.) that would have been used to decorate the sides and top of the game board.
  • Bronze frame of an almost completely decayed brown lacquered wooden Liubo board (B73, B81; circa 49.0 × 49.0 × 1.7 cm.), together with four circular silver sheets (B82; 2.5 cm. in diameter) that would have been used as designs on the board.
  • 6 crystal game pieces (B74, B75, B93) and 6 jadeite game pieces (B92; 3.3 × 2.0 × 1.3 cm.) that would have belonged with one of the two Liubo boards.
  • Bronze frame of a completely decayed lacquered wooden Liubo board (E112; circa 58.0 × 52.0 × 1.7 cm.), together with a lacquered wooden box containing twelve ivory game pieces.
  • Bronze frame of a completely decayed lacquered wooden Liubo board (E113; circa 40.0 × 40.0 cm.), together with six red-stained ivory game pieces (E114).

References : 《西漢南越王墓》 (文物出版社, 1991年).



6.6 Wooden Liubo board from Guangxi

廣西貴港市羅泊灣一號墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Guangxi Guixian Luobowan Hanmu 廣西貴縣羅泊灣漢墓 plate XXXII


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Luobowan, Guigang, Guangxi. {23.073°N 109.638°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Wooden Liubo board, with two sides missing (38.0 × 20.0 × 0.5 cm.).

Notes : The inventory of grave goods found in the tomb includes an entry for this Liubo board :

  • 博具一笥, 繒緣, P [sic] "Liubo set in one box, with silk borders, 'P'"

References : 《廣西貴縣羅泊灣一號墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1978.9); 《廣西貴縣羅泊灣漢墓》 (文物出版社, 1988年).



6.7 Bronze Liubo table from Guangxi

廣西西林縣普馱屯銅鼓墓出土銅六博盤一件

Source : http://history.chess.free.fr/liubo.htm


Source : Wenwu 文物 1978.9 page 48 fig.5


Provenance : Bronze drum tomb at Putuo Tun, Xilin, Guangxi. {24.44°N 105.19°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Bronze Liubo table with four long legs (30.0 × 29.0 × 9.0 cm.).

References : 《廣西西林縣普馱銅鼓墓葬》 (《文物》1978.9).



6.8 Two stone Liubo boards from Hebei

河北平山三汲中山國3號墓出土六博紋石板二件

Source : Mysteries of Ancient China (London: British Museum Press, 1996) plate 76


Source : Wenwu 文物 page 26 fig.33


Source : Wenwu 文物 page 26 fig.32


Provenance : Tomb M3 at Sanji, Pingshan, Hebei. {38.32°N 114.23°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Zhongshan]

Description : Two Liubo boards (45.0 × 45.2 cm.) made from a number of slabs of stone joined together, with an intricate pattern of mythical creatures, tigers and snakes.

References : 《河北省平山縣戰國時期中山國墓葬發掘簡報》 (《文物》1979.1).



6.9 Wooden Liubo board from Hubei

湖北鄂州鄂鋼53號墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Kaogu Xuebao 考古學報 1983.2 page 248 fig.26 no.1


Provenance : Tomb M53 at Egang, Ezhou, Hubei. {30.40°N 114.86°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid to late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Chu]

Description : Lacquered wooden Liubo board with three short legs (32.5 × 32.0 × 7.4 cm.).

References : 《湖北鄂城鄂鋼五十三號墓發掘簡報》 (《考古》 1978.4); 《鄂城楚墓》 (《考古學報》 1983.2).



6.10 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Hubei

湖北荊州鳳凰山8號墓出土六博具一套

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M8 at Fenghuang Shan, Jingzhou, Hubei. {30.377°N 112.290°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Wooden Liubo board (21.8 × 21.1 × 1.9 cm.).
  • 12 cuboidal bone game pieces (2.1 × 1.4 × 1.1 cm.), 6 black in colour, 6 greyish white in colour, stored in a round lacquer container.
  • 6 black lacquered bamboo throwing sticks (23.7 × 0.9 cm.).

Notes : The inventory of grave goods found in the tomb lists the Liubo set as :

  • 博、筭、綦、梮、博席一具,博囊一。 "Liubo [throwing sticks], counters, game pieces, game board, game mat one set, and one Liubo bag."

References : 《湖北江陵鳳凰山西漢墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1974.6).



6.11 Wooden Liubo table from Hubei

湖北荊州紀城一號楚墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Wenwu 文物 1994.4 colour plate 1 no.3


Source : Wenwu 文物 1994.4 page 11 fig.15 no.7


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Jicheng, Jingzhou, Hubei. {30.436°N 112.196°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Chu]

Description : Rectangular black lacquered wooden Liubo table with four long legs (34.6 × 20.5 × 12.5 cm.).

References : 《湖北荊州紀城一、二號楚墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1994.4).



6.12 Wooden Liubo table and game equipment from Hubei

湖北荊州市天星觀二號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Wenwu 文物 2001.9 page 18 fig.35


Provenance : Tomb M2 at Tianxing Guan, Jingzhou, Hubei. {30.411°N 112.457°E}

Current Location : Jingzhou Museum.

Date : Mid Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Chu]

Description :

  • Lacquered wooden Liubo table with four long legs stored in compartments on two sides of the board (45.4 × 40.4 × 28.2 cm.). The game dessign is inset into the board surface with bone or horn.
  • 18 cubic game pieces, 9 coloured black and 9 coloured white.

References : 《湖北省荊州市天星觀二號墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》2001.9).



6.13 Wooden Liubo table and game equipment from Hubei

湖北荊州市雨台山314號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Jiangling Yutaishan Chumu 江陵雨台山楚墓 (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1984) Plate 68 no.4


Provenance : Tomb M314 at Yutaishan, Jingzhou, Hubei. {30.434°N 112.241°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid Warring States period (476–221 BCE) (early to mid 4th century BCE) [State of Chu]

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo table with three long legs (39.0 × 32.7 × 24.0 cm.), with the edges and game design marked out in red lacquer. In the middle of the board is a rectangular compartment (9.0 × 6.3 × 0.9 cm.) used for storing the game pieces, with a lid that is flush with the surface of the board.
  • 24 game pieces made from pebbles, 9 coloured red, 9 coloured black and 6 coloured white.

References : 《江陵雨台山楚墓》 (文物出版社, 1984年).



6.14 Wooden Liubo table from Hubei

湖北荊州市雨台山197號墓出土六博盤一件

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M197 at Yutaishan, Jingzhou, Hubei. {30.434°N 112.241°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid Warring States period (476–221 BCE) (early to mid 4th century BCE) [State of Chu]

Description : Apparently a Liubo board similar to the one found in Tomb M314.

References : 《江陵雨台山楚墓》 (文物出版社, 1984年).



6.15 Wooden Liubo board from Hubei

湖北雲夢大墳頭一號墓出土六博局一件

Source : Wenwu 文物 1973.9 page 34 fig.39


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Dafentou, Yunmeng, Hubei. {31.020°N 113.740°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Lacquered wooden Liubo board (38.0 × 36.0 × 2.0 cm.) with the game design marked in red lacquer.

Notes : The inventory of grave goods found in the tomb lists the Liubo set as :

  • 博一具。 "One set of Liubo [throwing sticks and game pieces]."
  • 䰍洀畫曲一。 "One lacquered board with painted Liubo game designs."

References : 《湖北雲夢西漢墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1973.9).



6.16 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Hubei

湖北雲夢睡虎地11號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Yunmeng Shuihudi Qinmu 雲夢睡虎地秦墓 (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1981) plate 42 no.1


Provenance : Tomb M11 at Shuihudi, Yunmeng, Hubei. {31.023°N 113.736°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Qin dynasty, 30th year of the First Emperor of Qin (217 BCE)

Description :

  • Wooden Liubo board (23.0 × 29.0 × 2.0 cm.).
  • 12 black lacquered bone game pieces, 6 cubic (1.4 × 1.4 × 2.4 cm.) and 6 cuboidal (1.4 × 1.0 × 2.4 cm.).
  • 6 bamboo throwing sticks filled with metallic powder (23.5 cm. long).

References : 《湖北雲夢睡虎地十一號秦墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1976.6); 《雲夢睡虎地秦墓》 (文物出版社, 1981年).



6.17 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Hubei

湖北雲夢睡虎地13號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Yunmeng Shuihudi Qinmu 雲夢睡虎地秦墓 (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1981) plate 42 no.2


Provenance : Tomb M13 at Shuihudi, Yunmeng, Hubei. {31.023°N 113.736°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Qin dynasty, 30th year of the First Emperor of Qin (217 BCE)

Description :

  • Wooden Liubo board (38.5 × 35.0 × 3.3 cm.) with four circles marked with red lacquer. A compartment (24.0 × 6.0 × 1.8 cm.) in one side of the board was used to store the game pieces and throwing sticks.
  • 6 bone game pieces, 1 large piece coated in red lacquer (3.0 × 1.4 × 2.0 cm.) and 5 smaller pieces coated in black lacquer (2.5 × 1.2 × 1.7 cm.).
  • 6 bamboo throwing sticks bound with copper wire at each end, and filled with metallic powder (19.5 cm. long).

References : 《湖北雲夢睡虎地十一座秦墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1976.9); 《雲夢睡虎地秦墓》 (文物出版社, 1981年).



6.18 Lacquer Liubo set from Hunan

湖南長沙馬王堆3號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Mawangdui Hanmu Wenwu 馬王堆漢墓文物 (Hunan Chubanshe, 1992) page 76


Source : Mawangdui Hanmu Wenwu 馬王堆漢墓文物 (Hunan Chubanshe, 1992) page 76


Provenance : Tomb M3 (believed to be that of the son of the Marquis of Dai) at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan. {28.209°N 113.022°E}

Current Location : Hunan Provincial Museum.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE), 12th year of Emperor Han Wendi (168 BCE)

Description :

  • A black lacquered wooden game box (45.0 × 45.0 × 17.0 cm.).
  • A black lacquered wooden flat game board (45.0 × 45.0 × 1.2 cm.).
  • 12 cuboidal ivory game pieces (4.2 × 2.2 × 2.3 cm.), six black and six white.
  • 20 ivory game pieces (2.9 × 1.7 × 1.0 cm.).
  • 30 ivory counting rods (16.4 cm. long).
  • 12 ivory throwing sticks (22.7 cm. long).
  • One ivory knife (22.0 cm. long).
  • One ivory scraper (17.2 cm. long).
  • An eighteen-sided die with the numbers "1" through "16" and characters meaning "win" and "lose" (not listed in the inventory of grave goods).

Notes : The inventory of grave goods found in the tomb lists the Liubo set as :

  • 博一具 "one set of Liubo"
  • 博局一 "one Liubo board"
  • 象其十二 "twelve ivory game pieces"
  • 象直食其廿 "twenty ivory 'straight eating' game pieces"
  • 象筭三十枚 "thirty ivory counters"
  • 象□□□□ (last four characters obliterated) "[twelve] ivory [throwing rods]"
  • 象割刀一 "one ivory knife"
  • 象削一 "one ivory scraper"

References : 《長沙馬王堆二、三號漢墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1974.7); 《馬王堆漢墓文物》 (湖南出版社, 1992年).



6.19 Wooden Liubo board from Jiangsu

江蘇邗江姚莊101號墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Wenwu 文物 1988.2 page 26 fig.9


Provenance : Tomb M101 at Yaozhuang, Hanjiang, Jiangsu. {32.710°N 119.248°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Brown laquered wooden Liubo board (28.0 × 28.0 × 6.8 cm.) with four low legs. The border of the playing surface, the sides and the legs are decorated with geometric patterns, swirling cloud patterns, feathered immortals and mythical creatures.

References : 《江蘇邗江姚莊101號西漢墓》 (《文物》1988.2).



6.20 Wooden Liubo board from Jiangsu

江蘇江都鳳凰河木槨墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Kaogu Tongxun 考古通訊 1956.2 plate 17 no.5


Provenance : Tomb M2 at Fenghuang He, Jiangdu, Jiangsu. {32.315°N 119.705°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Black lacquered wooden Liubo board with four short legs, with the game design marked in red lacquer (39.0 × 39.0 × 6.5 cm.).

References : 《江都鳳凰河西漢木槨墓的清理》 (《考古通訊》1956.2).



6.21 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Jiangsu

江蘇盱眙東陽7號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Kaogu 考古 1979.5 page 417 fig.5 no.4


Source : Kaogu 考古 1979.5 page 419 fig.7


Provenance : Tomb M7 at Dongyang, Xuyi, Jiangsu. {32.955°N 118.848°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE) to Xin Dynasty (9–23)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board (40.0 × 40.0 × 9.5 cm.) with four low legs. The sides and legs are decorated with green patterns and pictures of mythical creatures.
  • A rectangular lacquered wooden box (30.0 × 29.0 × 7.7 cm.), with black lacquer outside and red lacquer inside, divided into three compartments.
  • An uncertain number of cuboidal wooden game pieces (3.0 × 1.5 × 1.5 cm.) from inside the box.
  • An uncertain number of lead counting rods (23.0 × 0.4 × 0.2 cm.) from inside the box.

References : 《江蘇盱眙東陽漢墓》 (《考古》1979.5).



6.22 Bone Liubo game pieces from Jiangsu

江蘇徐州宛胊侯劉埶墓出土棋子十二枚

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M3 (belonging to Liu Yi, Marquis of Wanqu) at Xuzhou, Jiangsu. {34.23°N 117.19°E}

Current Location : Xuzhou Museum.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE), circa 3rd year of Emperor Jing (154 BCE)

Description : 12 cuboidal bone game pieces (3.5 × 2.1 × 1.45 cm.).

References : 《徐州西漢宛胊侯劉埶墓》 (《文物》1997.2).



6.23 Bone Liubo game pieces from Jiangsu

江蘇徐州後樓山西漢墓出土棋子十一枚

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb at Houloushan, Xuzhou, Jiangsu. {34.127°N 117.555°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : 11 bone game pieces (2.25 × 1.3 × 0.6 cm.).

References : 《徐州後樓山西漢墓發掘簡報》 (《文物》1993.4).



6.24 Wooden Liubo board from Jiangsu

江蘇徐州獅子山西漢楚王陵出土六博盤一件

[No image available]


Provenance : Mausoleum of the Prince of Chu at Shizi Shan, Xuzhou, Jiangsu. {34.247°N 117.218°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE), circa 175–154.

Description : Wooden Liubo board.

References : 《徐州獅子山西漢楚王陵發掘簡報》 (《文物》1998.8).



6.25 Stone Liubo board from Shandong

山東費縣出土石六博盤一件

Source : Shandong Wenwu Xuanji 山東文物選集 plate 198


Provenance : Fei County, Shandong. {35.25°N 117.95°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Han Dynasty

Description : Stone Liubo board with four short legs.

References : 《山東文物選集》 (文物出版社, 1959年).



6.26 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Shandong

山東萊西縣岱墅2號墓出土六博具兩套

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M2 at Daishu Village, Laixi, Shandong. {36.962°N 120.327°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid to late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board with four short legs (37.0 × 37.0 × 7.3 cm.) with the game design marked in red lacquer.
  • Lacquered wooden box (42.5 × 42.5 × 9.0 cm.) containing a wooden Liubo board (39.0 × 39.0 cm.) made out of five pieces of wood, with the game design inlaid with horn.
  • 8 cuboidal wooden game pieces with missing inlay, of which 2 are large-sized (3.2 × 1.4 × 0.6 cm.) and 6 are small-sized (2.5 × 0.7 × 0.3 cm.).
  • 30 silver counter sticks (22.0 × 0.5 × 0.2 cm.) with the remains of a brown lacquer coating.

References : 《山東萊西縣岱墅西漢木槨墓》 (《文物》1980.12).



6.27 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Shandong

山東臨沂縣金雀山31號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Wenwu 文物 1989.1 page 40 fig.40


Provenance : Tomb M31 at Jinqueshan, Linyi, Shandong. {35.055°N 118.356°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) to early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board (41.7 × 41.7 × 5.2 cm.) with four short legs and a central column under the middle of the board. The board and legs are decorated with red, yellow and white cloud patterns and geometric patterns. The game design is inlaid with horn, with four triangular designs inlaid with wood engraved with the image of a bird.
  • 12 cuboidal wooden game pieces (3.0~3.2 × 1.7~2.0 × 1.5 cm.) with inlay and/or decorated patterns.
  • A number of silver counting rods (22.5 × 0.6 × 0.2 cm.), some lacquered with decorative patterns (50 counting rods in total from tombs M31 and M33).

References : 《山東臨沂金雀山九座漢代墓葬》 (《文物》1989.1).



6.28 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Shandong

山東臨沂縣金雀山33號墓出土六博具一套

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M33 at Jinqueshan, Linyi, Shandong. {35.055°N 118.356°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Mid to late Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board.
  • 12 cuboidal wooden game pieces (3.0~3.2 × 1.7~2.0 × 1.5 cm.) with inlay and/or decorated patterns.
  • A number of silver counting rods (22.5 × 0.6 × 0.2 cm.), some lacquered with decorative patterns (50 counting rods in total from tombs M31 and M33).

References : 《山東臨沂金雀山九座漢代墓葬》 (《文物》1989.1).



6.29 Wooden Liubo board and game equipment from Shandong

山東臨沂縣金雀山34號墓出土六博具一套

[No image available]


Provenance : Tomb M34 at Jinqueshan, Linyi, Shandong. {35.055°N 118.356°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) to early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board.
  • 12 cuboidal wooden game pieces (3.0~3.2 × 1.7~2.0 × 1.5 cm.) with inlay and/or decorated patterns.

References : 《山東臨沂金雀山九座漢代墓葬》 (《文物》1989.1).



6.30 Wooden Liubo board from Shandong

山東臨沂縣銀雀山一號墓出土六博盤一件

Source : Wenwu 文物 1974.2 page 23 fig.16


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Yinqueshan, Linyi, Shandong. {35.056°N 118.352°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Wooden Liubo board (30.0 × 30.0 × 5.0 cm.) with four low legs, and the game design marked with grooves filled with white powder.

References : 《山東臨沂西漢墓發現〈孫子兵法〉和〈孫臏兵法〉等竹簡的簡報》 (《文物》1974.2).



6.31 Liubo game pieces from Shandong

山東曲阜魯國故城3號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Qufu Luguo Gucheng 曲阜魯國故城 (Qilu Shushe, 1982) plate 120 no.2


Provenance : Tomb M3 at Gucheng, Qufu, Shandong. {35.602°N 117.004°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Lu]

Description :

  • 6 jadeite cubic game pieces.
  • 6 ivory cubic game pieces.
  • A bunch of silver counting rods.
  • A bunch of ivory counting rods.

References : 《曲阜魯國故城》 (齊魯書社, 1982年).



6.32 Liubo game pieces from Shandong

山東曲阜魯國故城52號墓出土六博具一套

Source : Qufu Luguo Gucheng 曲阜魯國故城 (Qilu Shushe, 1982) plate 120 no.1


Provenance : Tomb M52 at Gucheng, Qufu, Shandong. {35.602°N 117.004°E}

Current Location : Unknown.

Date : Early Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Lu]

Description :

  • 6 jade cubic game pieces.
  • 6 white stone cubic game pieces.
  • 6 grey stone cubic game pieces.
  • A bunch of silver counting rods.
  • A bunch of ivory counting rods.

References : 《曲阜魯國故城》 (齊魯書社, 1982年).



6.33 Stone Liubo board from Shaanxi

陝西出土石六博盤一件

Source : Limestone Liubo Board


Provenance : Somewhere in Shaanxi (presumably from a robbed tomb).

Current Location : E&J Frankel, Ltd., New York.

Date : Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Limestone Liubo board (45.5 × 45.5 × 8.9 cm.).

References : E&J Frankel, Ltd.



6.34 Stone Liubo board of unknown provenance

石六博盤一件

Source : Puddingstone Liubo Board


Provenance : Unknown (presumably from a robbed tomb).

Current Location : Unknown (private collection?).

Date : Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)

Description :

  • Puddingstone Liubo board (41.5 × 41.5 cm.) inlaid with bone.
  • 4 ivory game pieces (2.5 × 2.5 cm.).

References : E&J Frankel, Ltd.



6.35 Earthenware Liubo board and game equipment from Henan

河南洛陽出土陶六博盤一件

Source : Earthenware Liubo Board


Provenance : Luoyang (?), Henan.

Current Location : Metropolitan Musuem of Art, New York.

Date : Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)

Description :

  • Earthenware Liubo board (36.2 × 36.2 cm.).
  • 12 bone game pieces.

References : Metropolitan Musuem of Art



6.36 Wooden Liubo board and game pieces from Zhejiang

浙江安吉五福楚墓出土六博盤一件及棋子九枚

Source : Wenwu 文物 2007.7 page 71 fig.32


Source : Wenwu 文物 2007.7 page 71 fig.31


Provenance : Tomb M1 at Anji, Zhejiang. {30.791°N 119.647°E}

Current Location :

Date : Late Warring States period (476–221 BCE) [State of Chu]

Description :

  • Black lacquered wooden Liubo board (42.0 × 42.0 × 1.0 cm.).
  • 9 cuboidal undecorated black lacquered wooden game pieces (1.5 × 1.0 × 0.6 cm.).

References : 《浙江安吉五福楚墓》 (《文物》2007.7).



7. Sundials with Liubo Game Markings

Only two Han dynasty stone sundials are known, yet oddly enough both of them have Liubo game markings crudely engraved over the original sundial design, and so were apparently repurposed as Liubo game boards.


7.1 Stone sundial with Liubo game markings from Inner Mongolia

內蒙古托克托出土石日晷

Stone sundial with Liubo game markings, unearthed from Togtoh in Inner Mongolia in 1897, on display at the National Museum of China in Beijing (cf. Zhongguo Lishi Bowuguan Guankan 中國歷史博物館館刊 1981.3 plate 1 no.1)

CC-BY-SA-3.0 by Andrew West


Source : Zhongguo Lishi Bowuguan Guankan 中國歷史博物館館刊 1981.3 page 75 fig.1


Provenance : Togtoh, Inner Mongolia. {40.277°N 111.194°E}

Current Location : National Museum of China, Beijing.

Date : Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)

Description : Stone sundial with Liubo game design engraved over the sundial markings (27.4 × 27.4 × 3.5 cm.).

References : 孫機, 《托克托日晷》 (《中國歷史博物館館刊》1981.3: 74–81).



7.2 Stone sundial with Liubo game markings from Henan

河南洛陽金村出土石日晷

Source : Royal Ontario Museum Images


Provenance : Jin Village, Luoyang, Henan. {34.740°N 112.630°E}

Current Location : Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto [933.12.2].

Date : Western Han (206 BCE – 25 CE)

Description : Limestone sundial with Liubo game design engraved over the sundial markings (27.5 × 28.5 × 3.2 cm.).

References : 孫機, 《托克托日晷》 (《中國歷史博物館館刊》1981.3: 74–81).