Janggi history

Janggi history started probably from the Chinese game, Xiangqi that can be traced back about 2,000 years were the predeseror of Janggi. This chinese version of chess came to Korea around 400 years ago and after some changes became known as Janggi, Changgi or sometimes Jangki.

In the Korean literature first mentions were done by an author called Chang Yu (1587-1638). The rules that were set then remained till today with no further changes. In 1895 Stewart Culin  with his book, Korean Games. With Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan showed this game to western civilization.

Below You can find a photo of an old Janggi board:

Photo of an old Janggi board from: http://history.chess.free.frPhoto downloaded from: http://history.chess.free.fr

The oldest found Janggi pieces were found on the old shipwreck (so called shipwreck Mado N°3) that sunk in the waters of Mado (South Korea) at the end of the Goryeo period (between 1265 and 1268) on the road to Ganghwado – temporary capital at that time. They are made of stones with rounded edges with Chinese signs painted with ink on the surface. Now they are stored in National Research Institute of Marintime Cultural Heritage in Jeonnam in Republic of Korea.

Photos of an old stones for Janggi from page: http://history.chess.free.frPhoto downloaded from: http://history.chess.free.fr

Comparing to chinese counterparts some of the korean pieces are stronger. For example korean elephant is more powerfull than chinese. Keeping so strong figure only on the half of board had no sens so probably by this reason in korean chess river in the middle of the board was dropped. Much less probable is that Janggi were first and then Chinese version was made adding a river. Additionally figures of General and Guards have increased power what is also supporting thesis that Janggi are youngest than Xiangqi.

What is strange – korean Cannon has some limitation in movement – it has to jump to move as well as to capture. One of the possible explanaition of this is that both chess variants have separated at the moment when Cannon movement were not yet developed well. Also we are not sure if original Cannon movement were same as current one or the movement in Xiangqi.

Below photos of some old boards for Janggi:

Photos of old Janggi boards from page: http://history.chess.free.fr    Photo downloaded from: http://history.chess.free.fr