In Medieval Europe there are a lot of interesting chess pieces found. Often these pieces are made from very expensive materials. According to legend a precious chess set has been offered to Charlemagne in 801, for his crowning, by Harun-al-Rashid the Caliph of Baghdad. These figurine pieces are very nicely carved and made from Elephant Ivory.
A very nice set of figurine pieces were found on the Isle of Lewis and made from Walrus Tusk. These pieces give a nice picture of the Scandinavian life during the 12th century.
From arabic origin are abstract pieces, nice sets from rock crystal are found in Spain and Germany. A will from the 11th century of the Count of Urgel in Spain describes the offering of such a set to Saint-Gilles du Gars Abbey.
Chess Pieces were often made of precious materials and often ended as a gift to churches. The pieces were cut and ended for instance in a book cover. Sometimes they were also used in their original form. A nice example is the pulpit of Henry II in Aachen from about 1014.