Mandarin Language Game online book

This can be downloaded in pdf format Chinese Characters

18. Chinese Chess


Chinese chess xiàngqí 象棋   




This stamp was issued in 1999 in a set of 4 stamps to celebrate the International Year of the Elderly. This stamp shows an older person teaching someone younger how to play Chinese chess. 


The literal translation for xiàngqí is elephant chess. There are various theories as to why it is called elephant chess:

  • ancient pieces were made of ivory;
  • the game is a battle between two armies and elephants were used in ancient wars;
  • the word for a government minister and elephant in Chinese sound the same and it was a minister who first wrote about the game. 

The character for elephant has changed over time from a simple picture


Suggested activities:

  • Find out how to play Chinese chess.
  • Play a game of Chinese chess. 

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