Presumably wooden pieces would also have been common, though very few, from this early period, have survived. Many later medieval pieces were turned and carved from wood and, though these are well illustrated in a number of manuscripts, the pieces themselves have not survived.
The earliest known chess pieces in Europe represent a battle between two Indian armies, each comprising the king and his vizier (later to become the queen), the elephants (bishops), horses (knights), chariots (rooks) and the infantry (pawns). The king and queen or vizier, in early sets, are represented by cushioned thrones, the king’s larger than that of the queen or vizier. The bishop is a tall rounded dome with two protrusions representing the tusks of the elephant, The knights are similar in shape, but with a stylised horse’s head on one side at the top. The rook is rectangular with two points one on either side, sloping down to a central valley, representing the shape of the chariot. Pawns are generally small domes. There is some variation across all the surviving pieces, though this is minor and most pieces are easy to recognise.