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Maya

Russian “Maya” playing cards

“Maya” playing cards were designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975. The Russian connection to Mayan art stems from when Russian linguist Yuri Knorosov helped crack the code of the Maya glyphs. The intricate designs are inspired by ancient Mayan iconography found in original Mayan artworks from Mexico. The artist's attention to detail also includes the Tzolkin Calendar glyphs on each side of the cards.

The Maya civilization (AD 300-900) was one of the most sophisticated in pre-Columbian America and extended from Mexico across Guatemala, Belize and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador. Mayan body art, including piercings and sacrificial blood letting, makes today's tattoos and studs seem harmless!

Russian “Maya” playing cards first published in 1975

Above: Russian “Maya” playing cards, 52 cards + 2 Jokers. The designs were re-printed in 2012 as "Mayan Cards" with larger European indices and border frames by a Chinese manufacturer. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

REFERENCES

British Museum website

Last Updated January 26, 2016 at 02:03pm

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