Your Cart: £0.00
Visit the Shop
 

Playing Cards in Thailand

Officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam

The start of foreign relations

For centuries Thailand has been on the trade route between India and China. The Portuguese were the first Westerners to trade with Ayutthaya in Thailand in the 16th century. Thus European playing cards may have been used alongside locally produced cards and hybrid varieties evolved.

The start of foreign relations

Above: the start of foreign relations. Image courtesy Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, Bangkok.

Traders also arrived from Japan, the Arab world, England, Holland as well as France and often they had their own quarters or village communities. Chinese Money cards are produced in Thailand with Thai indices. The heritage resulting from the presence of foreign cultures in Thailand still exists today.

Background details in otherwise religious temple mural paintings frequently include scenes from daily life.

Chess players, detail from 18th century wall painting illustrating Ramakien story

Above: Chess players, detail from 18th century wall painting illustrating Ramakien story in the Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok.

Gamblers, detail from 18th century wall painting illustrating Ramakien story

Above: Gamblers, detail from 18th century wall painting illustrating Ramakien story in the Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok.

During the nineteenth century Belgian manufacturers (eg Brepols, Van Genechten) produced "Chinese" cards for South-East Asian countries including Java, the Celebes, Thailand and possibly China as well. Van Genechten was the first to print this kind of playing card in Turnhout: he was also one of the last, having managed to keep a firm hold on his markets. It is recorded that 111 tons of playing cards were exported from Belgium to Thailand in 1938.

Chinese cards exported to Far Eastern countries by Belgian manufacturers

Left: typical example of 'Chinese' cards exported to Far Eastern countries by Belgian manufacturers.

For a story about gambling in Thailand, click here.


Thai Playing Cards Manufacturing Factory

The state-controlled Thai Playing Cards Manufacturing Factory, Bangkok, produces about 400,000 decks per month   read more →

Thai Playing Cards Manufacturing Factory logo

Playing Card Related Ephemera

Pub Sign in Bangkok

Above: Bric-a-brac shop sign in Bangkok. Perhaps 'Jack of Diamonds' might suggest making some cash from dealing?

Above: cigarette cards published by tobacco companies.

asian art

Above: paintings inspired by Chinese playing cards from an exhibition in a Thai restaurant. Photographs by Adam Wintle - click to enlarge.

cigarette cards published by foreign tobacco companies

Above: cigarette cards have been published by foreign tobacco companies featuring Thai subjects, such as military uniforms or traditional costumes.

playing card mug produced by C.S. Thai Trading Company Limited

Above: mug produced by C.S. Thai Trading Company Limited.

“Learn Thai” Playing Cards, 2009

A set of cards aimed at the foreign adult learner of the Thai language is published by Lanna Innovation Co. Ltd. Their website states that “Adults learn language differently than children and adolescents. Our approach is one of engaged, problem-driven learning which seeks to leverage effective language learning tools and teaching methods.”

Learn Thai playing cards

Above: cards from 44-card "Learn Thai" cards, described as an easy to use innovative system to learn faster through visual memory. Published by Lanna Innovation Co. Ltd, 2009.

Bio-Pack Flash Cards

Bio-Pack flashcards produced for Thai biology students

Above: Bio-Pack flashcards produced for Thai biology students   see more

Children’s Educational Cards

As gambling is technically illegal in Thailand, playing cards are slightly taboo and parents wouldn't want their children to be playing with cards. However, a number of educational sets of cards can be found.

Thai Children’s Alphabet Cards

Above: cigarette cards featuring educational topics.

Thai Children’s Vocabulary Cards, 2016

Above: Thai Children’s Colour Vocabulary Cards promoting Ovaltine Smart chocolate drink, 2016   see more

Conjuring Playing Cards

‘Secret Magic Cards’ published by Hanky Panky Toys Thailand Ltd, 2006

Above: ‘Secret Magic Cards’ published by Hanky Panky Toys Thailand Ltd, 2006   see more

Other Playing Cards and Card Games

cards published by Eagle Bird Cigarettes

Above: assorted Thai cards.

Last Updated January 06, 2017 at 06:56pm

Sections

back to top