Chess Set, first half of the 20th century
light and dark wood
Gift of Gordon MacDougall, Bowdoin Class of 1940
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited place on earth. Located in the Pacific Ocean over 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, it was settled by the Rapa Nui people in the first millennium CE. Europeans arrived in 1722, devastating the population with violence and disease over the following centuries. Although likely carved in the twentieth century for sale to visitors, the imagery on these chess pieces is based on classic types of Rapa Nui wood and stone figures. The pawns resemble the giant stone figures (moai), carved by the first inhabitants, for which Easter Island is famous. Shortly after Gordon MacDougall, Bowdoin class of 1940, bought this chess set in Chile, it was featured on the front page of a 1951 issue of the American magazine Chess Review.