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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

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ganjifa

6 Articles

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Qajar Dynasty playing cards, Iran, 19th century.

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Guru Ganjifa

Sunish Chabba is working on an initiative to revive traditional Ganjifa, the card game most popular 17th Century India.

Guru Ganjifa

Air India

‘Air India’ playing cards, made in India.

Air India

Chitrashala Press

Chitrashala Press produced some charming children's pictorial alphabet cards for early learning purposes in the 1940s.

Chitrashala Press

Dasavatara Ganjifa from India

Chromo-lithograph Ganjifa cards by the Chitrasala Press, around 1950. Ten suits of twelve cards, each suit is based on one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu.

Dasavatara Ganjifa from India