Barjees is based on a traditional game that used to be popular in middle-eastern cultures. The game is believed to have originated in India, and later traveled along the Silk Road to Persia and eventually the Levantine.
It is traditionally played on dark velvet fabric with colorful embroidery. Six cowry shells are thrown each turn to determine the number of moves based on whether they land on their open or closed side.
You win the game by moving your pawns all around the board and into the middle (called “Mutbakh” in Arabic). Your number of moves is determined by the combination of open and closed shells after throwing.