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Snakes and ladders
Title : Snakes and ladders Snakes and ladders View More Images
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Source : Snakes and ladders [game]
Place Of Creation : [Victoria]
Publisher : National Game Co.]
Date of creation : [19-0?]]
Format : Game
Dimensions : 360 x 365 mm., folded to 360 x 180 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

An early version of the game with moral explanations on game board, e.g., No. 21. Kindness is a ladder up to No. 82; No. 73. Slander is a fall to No. 1.

Snakes and Ladders is a popular game that relies on luck. If you are unlucky and land on a snake you are forced back along the game board, and the length of the snake appears random. If you are lucky you can climb a ladder to a higher number; again the ladders appear to be of random length.

The game was first introduced into England in the late 19th century, but it has older origins. It is derived from the game of Moksha-Patamu - an Indian game used in religious education to teach about virtues and vices, with ladders allowing the player to ascend more quickly to heaven through some virtuous act and snakes representing evil forcing the player down.

In the English version the vices and virtues are more evenly distributed on the board, and some of the virtues are more highly regarded than others resulting in a longer ascent. For example, kindness raises the player from 21 to 82; of the vices Avarice takes you back 70 squares, Vanity only 22.

By the mid-20th century the game was being published without the distinguishing morals. It remains as popular as ever.

Further reading :

Goodfellow, Caroline. A collector's guide to games and puzzles, London: Apple Press, c1991

Grunfeld, Frederic V. (ed.) Games of the world: how to make them, how to play them, how they came to be, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1975

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