India

Cards from far off lands and bygone days!

India

Unread postby dazzleguts » Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:17 am  

Ganjifa

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This deck of 96 circular cards reproduces a Mogul Ganjifa deck from Rajasthan, India of around 1785. The original is in the collection of the Fournier Museum in Vitoria, Spain and they produced this reproduction in 2004. The cards are the same size as the originals at 6.3 cm across. The originals were stiff lacquered cards that came in a decorated wooden box. This copy comes in a rather plain black cardboard box with a picture of one of the pip cards on the front.

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Ganjifa are usually round and come in large decks of 8 or more suits, 12 cards to each suit. There are 2 court cards in each suit, a king (or lord, or rajah, etc.) and a general (second in rank), and pip cards from 1 - 10. The cards range in size from 2 - 12 cm in diameter. They have many different themes leading to varied styles and suits. Even between decks of similar type considerable differences exist, according to the area they come from, and who painted them. Traditional Ganjifa cards were, and are, handmade and hand painted, each single card being a work of art. The common materials used are wood, stiffened cloth, and paper, but higher priced Ganjifa decks were often painted on a precious substance like tortoise shell, ivory, or mother of pearl.

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Used to play a game called Ganjifa, the cards may be based on the now extinct Persian cards for the anciant game of As-Nas (which has some similarity to Poker), though there is some evidence the card form dates from before the Moguls conquered India in 1526. The name Ganjifa does come from the Persian word ganjifeh (گنجفه), which is what playing cards are called in India, Nepal, Iran, some Arab countries, and Turkey. Ganjifeh actually translates as Treasure Cards, and the presence of a money suit in every deck may suggest a link to the earlier money suited cards of China.

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The 8 suits of this deck are Servants, Gold Coins, 2 different Flowers, Harps, Sabres, and two suits I'm not sure of - one of which may be a Bill of Exchange and the other might be Wrapped Merchandise. Each suit has it's own background colour, and the card backs are red with 2 parallel gold lines running close to the card edge.

These cards are in the Fournier Catalogue: volume 1, page 327, #16 of India
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Re: India

Unread postby guru » Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:30 pm  

Glad to see this post.

Considering that I've been researching on Ganjifa and running a Kickstarter campaign at the moment, I'd like to add a few things here:

A key dated reference regarding Ganjifa comes from an early biography of Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty. “Gunj” is a Persian word meaning treasure, and the last two syllables may be derived from the Chinese “chi-p’ai”, meaning playing cards — but these suggestions are unproven. In Orissa, where it is called Ganjappa, they say the word came from "gaja pa" that means elephant's foot, because the round cards when they are being played look like an elephant's foot.

However, few Indian researchers and Art patrons have come up with a theory that card games did originate in India long time back, may be, 700- 800 AD, and these used to be called as Kridapatram which literally means "Printed rags for playing". Local oral tradition do point it out as well e.g. Orissa in India where the craft is still trying to survive somehow. That said, there hasn't been any dated reference found till date to back it. Andy Pollette, also , did mention about Kridapatram on his website that has lots of information on various aspects of Playing cards, in general.

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Chronology of the evolution of early cards- Reference: Andy Pollette

During the later 16th and early 17th centuries, the cards spread to various parts of India and evolved into new forms. One such form was the Dashavatara Ganjifa, which depicts ten incarnations or avatars of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu when revealing himself in opposition to evil chose these human and animal appearances. From the 17th century onwards, Dashavatara Ganjifa became the most popular card game in Rajasthan, Bengal, Nepal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Edward Terry, author of "A Voyage to East-India", also mentions as seeing Ganifa cards often during his visit to India in the first quarter of 17th Century.

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Dashavatara Ganjifa, circa 1940

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Latest prototype (v3) of Guru Ganjifa- Inspired by Dashavatara Ganjifa and Madhubani art

In Sanskrit, "Gu" means "darkness of ignorance" and "Ru" means "one who removes". Another meaning for Guru is "One who reveals the Guri (target) to the disciple". The Guru Ganjifa deck consists of 130 cards, of which 120 are used in play. The other ten contain information about the avatars of Lord Vishnu. Each of the ten suits contains cards numbered 1 through 10 plus two face cards, a total of twelve cards per suit. The face cards are the Mantri (similar to the Jack) and the Raja (similar to the King).

The Raja and Mantri are always the highest cards, but in one group of suits the pip cards rank from the 10 (below the Mantri) down to the 1 (lowest), while in the other group they rank in the reverse direction from the 1 (below the Mantri) down to the 10 (lowest). The rule by which numbered cards rank upside down in half the suits is also found in some early European games, indicating that it goes back to the common ancestor of Western and Eastern cards.

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Re: India

Unread postby guru » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:54 am  

The following images were recently shared by Rani Satwashiladevi Bhosle of Sawantwadi. This is a hand crafted deck with name as "Indo French Whist Pack".

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Last edited by guru on Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: India

Unread postby guru » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:00 am  

Contd. from last post.

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Re: India

Unread postby guru » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:01 am  

IMG-20160619-WA0050.jpg


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