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Ethnic & Indigenous Identities


In the twenty-first century we must embrace the diversity of our shrinking world. Playing cards often depict national or ethnic identities, cultures, worldviews, and native communities. These representations show the indigenous capacity to assert dignity amidst modernity, sometimes outshining even the fashion industry.

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‘Pekka’, an additional card in the set, is an ethically-incorrect golly look-alike card, embodying the caricature of foreign heritage without a status or family structure. In other countries the game is often known as ‘Old Maid’, ‘Black Peter’, ‘Petter-spel’ or ‘Schwarzer Peter’.



‘Pelaco’ playing cards with Aboriginal characters by Sands & McDougall, Australia, c.1930.

Pendleton playing cards 2019

Pendleton playing cards

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

Playing Cards from Mauritius

Playing Cards from Mauritius

Pack designed for La Maison de L’Artisanat Ltée, Mauritius, by Hervé de Cotter.

Playing cards from Suriname 1980

Playing cards from Suriname

Playing cards reflecting the history and culture of Suriname, on the northeastern coast of South America.

Race Card 1995

Race Card

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

Reshuffle 2010


“Reshuffle” by Reetta Hiltunen, Finland, is a playing card installation stemming from the traditional Finnish children's card game Pekka-game or Funny Families.

San Playing Cards 2000

San Playing Cards

Rock paintings and engravings of the San people, better known as the “Bushmen”.

Seven Seas Maori Playing Cards 1980

Seven Seas Maori Playing Cards

A Gift from New Zealand

Sheba by Omega Concepts Ltd 1972

Sheba by Omega Concepts Ltd

Sheba playing cards illustrated by Brent Bailer and published by Omega Concepts Ltd.

Slavonic 1928


Originally published as “Slavonic Cards No.501” by The Colour Printing Plant, St. Petersburg in 1928.

South American Costumes 1860

South American Costumes

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

Spin & Old Maid 1893

Spin & Old Maid

Lovely Victorian family card game with illustrations by the famous humorous artist, cartoonist and illustrator Richard Doyle (1824-1883)

Strange People 1895

Strange People

“Strange People” card game produced by the Fireside Game Co., Cincinnati, 1895.

Tanisa cartes à jouer

Tanisa cartes à jouer

“Tanisa cartes à jouer” published by Colormad, Madagascar.

The Times of Kamehameha The Great 1984

The Times of Kamehameha The Great

Figures from Hawaiian history and scenes of everyday life designed by Joseph Feher.

Tonalamatl 1985


Baraja Tonalamatl Mexican Aztec playing cards based on the prehispanic Codex Borgia manuscript.

Traditional Nomadic Life of Mongolia

Traditional Nomadic Life of Mongolia

Playing cards depicting paintings of Traditional Nomadic Life of Mongolia.

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards 1995

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

“Allfours Carnival Playing Cards” designed by Gabby Woodham, Trinidad, 1995