The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published October 04, 2014 Updated June 11, 2022

Cultúrlán

Celtic myth playing cards inspired by the rich Celtic pantheon of mythological Gods, Goddesses, and heroes

Ireland USA United States Playing Card Co. James Acken Celtic Myths & Legends Review 2014

“Cultúrlán” Celtic myth playing cards

created by James Acken, PhD - www.culturlan.com

The cards in these decks are rich in symbolism, celebrating the Celtic pantheon of mythological Gods, Goddesses, and heroes. The cards contain an enormous amount of detail which is backed up by scholarship and each image is captivating and draws your attention deeper into the design. The cards are of excellent quality with nice sharp print registration and each card obviously had a lot of time and devotion dedicated to it... nothing to be disappointed by!

Asymmetrical Version   (different at each end)

There is an inherent duality in Celtic culture that celebrates both the dark and the light, the force of human social values balancing the forces of nature, and the contrast between what we understand and what may be hidden in the supernatural. This duality is represented in the artwork in Cultúrlán’s asymmetrical playing cards. Celtic culture recognizes the need for both creation and destruction in human society. The purpose of Lugh and Balor, both kings of Ireland, was to provide abundance to their families through distributing their wealth, and to create the means for supporting their clans over many generations.

Above: in the asymmetrical back design the cauldron sits at the base of a bile, a sacred tree that in early Ireland would often have been associated with a specific family, the basis (in our opinion) of the idea of a “family tree”. Entwined in the roots of this bile are the four animals of early Gaelic society: the horse of kingship, the bull of wealth, the boar of prophetic heroism and the hound of warriorship [taken from the notes on an extra card in the deck].

1st Symmetrical Version

The cards in this symmetrical deck (same each end) feature the ‘light’ characters in the asymmetrical deck. Each image is captivating and draws your attention deeper into the design.

Above: the symmetrical card back is more mathematical than the asymmerical back, with eight clearly delineated cauldrons spilling into a ninth implied cauldron at the centre. The suit of spades is based on the Sword of Nuadha. This sword was brought from the Otherwordly city of Finnias where the poet-sage Uiscias presided. Like Lugh's spear, it was unstoppable in battle and is probably connected somehow with Caledfwlch, the legionary Welsh sword that would eventually become Excalibur, the gift of the Lady of the Lake. The Joker shows a monstrous boggart, related etymologically to the Welsh bwci and the Irish púca, wearing the traditional Gaelic clothing of sixteenth century warriors while juggling nine objects. Manufactured by the United States Playing Card Company, 2014.

2nd Symmetrical Version

Cultúrlán's third and final deck in this series of cards is scheduled to be ready for Bealtaine. With images faithful to original Irish, Scottish, and Welsh tales as preserved in medieval tradition, these new symmetrical decks are meant to fan the embers of interest in myth that glow around the world, and coax into flame that old pleasure in ancient lore...

Reviewed by Sean A. Parry.

avatar

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


Leave a Reply

Recommended

2018 Kings Wild Tigers Playing Cards

Kings Wild Tigers Playing Cards

Kings Wild Tigers is Jackson Robinson’s 27th successful playing card Kickstarter campaign. A luxury collectable deck inspired by vintage matchboxes.

2022 Billionaire Boys Club Playing Cards by Theory11

Billionaire Boys Club Playing Cards by Theory11

Limited edition luxury playing cards by Billionaire Boys Club and Theory 11.

1979 Gas Shortages

Gas Shortages

Screenprint designs on an ever-topical subject, designed and made by Sallie Chinkes, 1979.

2004 Rapalje

Rapalje

Promotional pack for a Dutch Celtic folk band which performs Irish, Scottish and Dutch folk music, c.2004.

1986 Helmsley Hotels

Helmsley Hotels

Publicity pack for the Harley and Helmsley Hotels, U.S.A., c.1986.

2014 Encarded First Edition by Paul Carpenter

Encarded First Edition by Paul Carpenter

The Encarded First Edition is a limited edition of 2,500 designed by Paul Carpenter and manufactured by the Expert Playing Card Company.

2005 Bush Cards – The Second Term

Bush Cards – The Second Term

Cards slanted to the right, issued to mark George W. Bush’s second term of office.

2019 National Playing Cards by Theory11

National Playing Cards by Theory11

Playing cards inspired by mysterious symbolism of secret societies as well as a tribute to the National Playing Card Co.

2020 Sirocco Playing Cards

Sirocco Playing Cards

Sirocco, nautical themed playing cards by Riffle Shuffle Playing Card Co. and designed by Nathan Oser, 2020.

2012 Monarchs Playing Cards by Theory11

Monarchs Playing Cards by Theory11

Monarchs luxury playing cards by Theory11, featured in the film Now You See Me.

2015 Nomad Luxury Playing Cards

Nomad Luxury Playing Cards

Luxury playing cards produced by Theory11 in collaboration with The Nomad Hotel in New York City.

2003 Alcatraz: Rules and Regulations Playing Cards

Alcatraz: Rules and Regulations Playing Cards

Rules and regulations that guided prison life in America’s most notorious prison.

2021 Avengers Playing Cards by Theory11

Avengers Playing Cards by Theory11

Marvel’s Avengers: The Infinity Saga Premium Playing Cards produced by Theory11 and designed by Mattson Creative, 2021.

2014 A. Dougherty’s Triplicate Recreation

A. Dougherty’s Triplicate Recreation

A recreated of the original 1876, No. 18, Triplicate deck by A. Dougherty by Michael Scott in 2014.

2019 Triangle Playing Cards

Triangle Playing Cards

Triangle Playing Cards by Michael Scott.

1970 Notched Construction Cards

Notched Construction Cards

Two Notched Construction Card Sets by Shackman & Co, N.Y. 1970s.

2018 IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One playing cards, c.2018.

Spyscape

Spyscape

Spyscape espionage, surveillance and cryptography themed playing cards, 2018.

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.

1940 Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940.

1953 Vargas Girls

Vargas Girls

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.

1942 Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces, 1942.

1990 Irish Legendary

Irish Legendary

Irish Legendary deck featuring figures in the Legends of Ireland, designed by Rachel Arbuckle, 1990.

2011 Curator

Curator

The Curator Deck with designs by Emmanuel José with suit symbols cleverly transformed into artistic designs.

1989 Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

Warren Paper Products

Warren Paper Products

Warren Paper Products Co., Lafayette, Indiana, publishers of Built-Rite toys, games and puzzles.

1986 Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.

1968 Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.

Victory

Victory

“Victory" cards celebrating U.S. participation in the Allied victory, c.1945.

1976 Maya Deck

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

1840 Caleb Bartlett

Caleb Bartlett

Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.

1951 Snap

Snap

Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

1951 Roundup

Roundup

Roundup card game by Whitman Publishing, 1951.

1951 Old Maid

Old Maid

Old Maid card game by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

1951 Crazy Eights

Crazy Eights

Crazy Eights by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

1951 Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

1951 Authors

Authors

Authors quartet game published by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

1951 Whitman 8 Game Box

Whitman 8 Game Box

Whitman 8 Card Games boxed set, 1951.

1974 Paddington

Paddington

Paddington card game published in UK by Whitman.

1880 Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds published by West & Lee, Worcester, Mass, c.1880.