The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published November 28, 2018 Updated January 13, 2023

Characters of “The Water Margin”

Characters from the Chinese novel “The Water Margin” - 水滸撲克.

1970 China Ethnic & Indigenous Literature Water Margin Add to Collection
水滸撲克 (Shuihu Puke) Water Margin Poker

Illustrated playing cards featuring characters from “The Water Margin”, a Chinese novel attributed to Shi Nai'an, considered a classic of Chinese literature. Various forms of cards exist as the images often appear on Chinese money-suited, domino or Mah-Jong decks. This edition is a double French suited pack containing a total of 108 colourful images from “The Water Margin”. The choice of issuing the cards as a two-deck set is significant. The total number of cards, 108, is also the total number of characters in the book. Notable characters include Wu Song on the king of spades. He is depicted committing his most famous deed - killing a tiger that terrorized a mountain pass. One ace of spades depicts Lin Chong, another character. Everything else is explained on the Info Card

Characters of the Water Margin Characters of the Water Margin Characters of the Water Margin Characters of the Water Margin Characters of the Water Margin Characters of the Water Margin

Above: playing cards featuring characters from “The Water Margin”, c.1970. Various editions are known, often with different back designs. This edition is a high quality double boxed set; each deck comprises 52 cards + 2 jokers + 1 information card, all printed in a Chinese language. The illustrations above are from the second deck in the set.

CREDITS

Thanks to Anthony Lee for additional research.


Matchbox Labels

Jining Huochai Matchbox labels: Characters of the Water Margin

Above: Jining Huochai Matchbox labels: Characters of the Water Margin 水滸撲克. Courtesy Rex Pitts.

avatar
308 Articles

By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

1985 Victor Hugo 1885-1985

Victor Hugo 1885-1985

Characters from novels by Victor Hugo marking the centenary of his death, as conceived by Dominique...

1985 Victor Hugo “L’homme qui rit”

Victor Hugo “L’homme qui rit”

Two different packs with costume designs for Victor Hugo plays, issued on the centenary of his deat...

1997 Pinocchio playing cards

Pinocchio playing cards

Comic book drawings inspired by Carlo Collodi’s children’s classic, Pinocchio.

Le jeu des 7 Familles ’Utuafare

Le jeu des 7 Familles ’Utuafare

Colourful Happy Families game from Tahiti depicting costumes from different archipelagoes.

1983 San Paolo Chekhov

San Paolo Chekhov

Characters from Chekhov’s plays designed by Paolo Fresu for San Paolo Istituto Bancario, Italy, c.19...

1978 Wedding of Krechinsky • Свадьба Кречинского

Wedding of Krechinsky • Свадьба Кречинского

A pack of cards depicting characters from the famous play "The Wedding of Krechinsky" by Sukhovo-Kob...

2005 Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare Insults playing cards with portraits by Jan Padover, USA, 2005.

2004 Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes, the first volume of a double set published by Prospero Art of San...

2020 Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland themed playing cards, UK, 2020.

2012 Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards with illustrations by Jan Padover, USA, 2012.

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards published by Gemaco for Mohegan Sun casino.

2016 Don Quixote playing cards

Don Quixote playing cards

Don Quixote playing cards designed by Nam Tibon, USA, 2016.

1820 Heathen Wars

Heathen Wars

German-suited ‘Heathen War’ playing cards published by Joseph Fetscher, Munich, c.1820.

1800 Æsop’s Fables tarot

Æsop’s Fables tarot

French-suited Æsop’s fables tarot produced by Leipzig Industrie Comptoir, c.1800-1825.

2013 Jane Austen playing cards

Jane Austen playing cards

Jane Austen playing cards published by Prospero Art, USA, 2013.

2019 Pendleton playing cards

Pendleton playing cards

Pendleton playing cards inspired by indigenous American artwork, USA, 2019.

2015 Dorset Dialect Trails

Dorset Dialect Trails

‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards, United Kingdom, 2015.

2015 Malam playing cards

Malam playing cards

Malam playing cards created by Michael Muldoon, USA, 2015.

1971 Gibert Jeune

Gibert Jeune

Publicity pack for Gibert Jeune, the famous Parisian bookshop, with designs by James Hodges.

1820 Costumes des Peuples Étrangers

Costumes des Peuples Étrangers

Costumes des Peuples Étrangers & Jeu d’Or dedicated to young people and likely used for games and fo...

2022 Pixel Tarot

Pixel Tarot

This tarot deck pays tribute to the golden age of pixelated video games, drawing inspiration from th...

1864 De La Rue Pocket Guides

De La Rue Pocket Guides

The 19th Century saw the production, by all of the major companies, of pocket guides or “mini-books”...

1995 Race Card

Race Card

‘Race Card’ playing cards published by the Concept Card Co., New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

1889 The Club Series by G. Bell & Sons

The Club Series by G. Bell & Sons

George Bell & Sons produced ‘The Club Series’ of books each specialising in one or more of the popul...

Hoyle v Foster: whose name should we remember?

Hoyle v Foster: whose name should we remember?

Hoyle’s name is associated with the rules by which many games are played, particularly card games B...

1742 Hoyle and his Legacy

Hoyle and his Legacy

Edmond Hoyle (1672-1769) was an English writer who made his name by writing on whist and a selection...

Whist writers and pseudonyms

Whist writers and pseudonyms

Why did so many early writers about whist and other card games feel the need to write under a pseudo...

2015 Hawaiian playing cards

Hawaiian playing cards

Hawaiian playing cards in the style of classic Hawaiian wood carvings, USA, 2015.

1860 South American Costumes

South American Costumes

Costumes of people of Brazil, Peru and Mexico, with views of Rio de Janeiro on the aces.

1840 Jeu de cartes abécédaire

Jeu de cartes abécédaire

An educational card game designed by F. Séré and published by Lithographie Musicale de Boboeuf, Par...

1973 Alessandro Manzoni Centenary

Alessandro Manzoni Centenary

Issued to mark the centenary of the death of Alessandro Manzoni, one of Italy’s greatest writers.

2004 Baudelaire playing card collection

Baudelaire playing card collection

Baudelaire playing card collection illustrated by Alméry Lobel-Riche and published by Lo Scarabeo in...

Sherlock Holmes illustrated playing cards

Sherlock Holmes illustrated playing cards

Sherlock Holmes playing cards with illustrations by Sidney Paget, United Kingdom

Shakespeare finely illustrated playing cards

Shakespeare finely illustrated playing cards

Shakespeare playing cards with illustrations by Sir John Gilbert RA, United Kingdom.

1980 Seven Seas Maori Playing Cards

Seven Seas Maori Playing Cards

A Gift from New Zealand

2023 Shakespeare Playing Cards

Shakespeare Playing Cards

Kickstarter-funded modern remake of the 1902 classic pack, perfect for Shakespeare

1970 Les Grands Ecrivains

Les Grands Ecrivains

‘Les Grands Ecrivains’ produced for members of “Le Grand Livre du Mois”, France, c. 1970.

1994 African art playing cards

African art playing cards

African art and symbolism on playing cards designed by John J. Beckvermit III, USA, 1994.

1992 Pacific Northwest native Indian masks

Pacific Northwest native Indian masks

Pacific Northwest native Indian masks with artwork by Margaret Parrott, USA, 1992.

1980 Ethiopian playing cards

Ethiopian playing cards

A pack with court cards reflecting different ethnic and cultural groups found in Ethiopia.