What kind of personality is chess rook?

What meanings could we ascribe to it?

“Here and there in the ancient literature we encounter legends of wise and mysterious games that were conceived and played by scholars, monks, or the courtiers of cultured princes. These might take the form of chess games in which the pieces and squares had secret meanings in addition to their usual functions.” –Herman Hesse

Power and Mobility

The original chessmen represented four members of army to help the king and his counselor (today’s queen) wage war, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots. Over time, they became pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively.

The Rook has represented our physical power to act. That is why it was originally the most powerful and mobile chess unit acting in concert with the world’s material structures (actually a combat vehicle, or armed carrier, as opposed to other members of army representing live beings).

Rook as boat

Instead of chariot, sometimes it was a boat used in ancient India (Bengal) for these powerful and mobile combat structures. In Russia, the rook is still Ladya, a boat.


The rook may also represent the fact of watching, like the way ancient fortresses were built as strategic points in order to be able to observe the surroundings.

art Luc Bersauter

Tower observing and dominating, Luc Bersauter


In Hinduism and Buddhism, the Rook is a symbol of watching by introspection. It is a way of studying mind from the inside (see the mirror Walking Buddha is holding, in Roytburd’s piece below).

Rook in Arts

In one of previous posts we saw how the Knight has been represented in arts. Today, let us have a look at the Rook (click a picture for a more detailed view).

The only good Rook is a working Rook!  –Samuel Reshevsky

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