Sunday, December 6, 2015

How Times (and Tavla Boards) Have Changed!

Looking longingly at Grandpa Peter's tavla board, Marash Girl asked her daughter Lorig (who had accepted an invitation to present Community Mediation Training to the Israelis in Jerusalem) to please bring home a traditional tavla set for Raffi (Marash Girl's grandson, Lorig's son), as Raffi had, during the Chatham summer, exhibited unusual skill in the game -- no doubt inherited from his Great Grandpa Peter and his Great Great Grandpa Moses, both who hail from Marash).
Lorig dutifully went to the bazaar in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, looking for a traditional Tavla set, (backgammon set, or as, Lorig learned they call it in Israel, Shesh Besh --which is one of the traditional Persian calls for the dice when 5 and 6 appear) a set like Grandpa Peter's. She was told, however, that the wooden boards -- the boards that looked like Grandpa Peter's -- were now all made in China.  If she wanted one made by Armenian hands, she would have to purchase the boards with pottery inserts -- Jerusalem Pottery inserts -- pottery that was made traditionally and still, by the Armenians in Jerusalem  (the very Armenian potters whose ancestors created tiles for Jerusalem's Mosque of the Dome), but in this case the Armenian's name was Darakjian (a relative, no less) whose family originally hailed from Marash! (What were the chances?)  Unfortunately, pottery is very heavy, and so the tavla board added much weight to Lorig's already heavy bags, but she was not about to disappoint her children!  (It should be noted here that Aline, at the tender age of 2 1/2 years, could throw the dice like her great-great-grandpa Moses.  Whatever the number we asked her to throw, she threw it! Unfortunately this set did not come with the dice, so Aline has to wait a bit to practice her skills!)  Lorig survived the trip and arrived with the heavy tavla board in tow, a board she had lovingly packed into her suitcase, adding a good 20 pounds if not more, and dragging it all the way back to her kitchen table.  Here it is (the backgammon set AND the kitchen table!)  Oh, and by the way, the wooden pieces are made from the olive tree!

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