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All 70 Suit Systems, National Types and Patterns

Akahachi 1 Ansbach 1 Archaic Patterns 51 As-Nas 3 Auvergne Pattern 1 Bavarian Pattern 10 Bohemian or Prager Pattern 5 Boisse 1 Burgundy Pattern 3 Cadiz-Pattern 23 Castilian Pattern 6 Catalan Pattern 39 Ceki 4 Dasavatara 1 Dauphiné 2 Domino-Suited 14 Dutch Pattern 2 Florentine Pattern 5 Foochow 1 Franco-Spanish 2 French Catalan Pattern 3 Fribourg pattern 1 Ganjifa 8 Genoese Pattern 13 Guarro Pattern 6 Hanafuda 4 Hokkien 3 Hungarian Seasons Pattern 7 Hwatu 4 Kabu 1 Komaru 1 Kurofuda 1 Languedoc Pattern 3 Lenormand 10 Llombart Pattern 4 Lombard Pattern 1 Lyons 4 Maciá Pattern 2 Madiao 2 Mamluk 6 Mekuri 3 Money-Suited 5 Moorish 11 Navarra Pattern 6 Nürnberg 1 Pai 7 Paris Pattern 20 Parisian Pattern 7 Patterns and Suit Types 68 Penang 1 Petit Etteilla 2 Piacentine 1 Piedmont 4 Piemontese 4 Portuguese Pattern 16 Provence Pattern 2 Prussian Pattern 2 Raimundo García Pattern 5 Rhineland 4 Rider-Waite Tarot 14 Salzburger 1 Saxon Pattern 1 Spanish National Pattern 18 Spanish Suited 89 Standard Pattern 26 Suits 38 Tarot de Besançon 2 Tarot de Marseille 9 Thoth 3 Vienna Pattern 2

By around 1500 three main suit systems had evolved: Latin (including Italian, Spanish and Portuguese); Germanic (German and Swiss) and French (which has become the International or 'Anglo-American' suit system). At the same time the court hierarchies were becoming standardised, although distinctive for different regions. Some of the suit symbols may have had a semi-symbolic significance (e.g. cups, coins, hearts, batons, pomegranates) or were adapted from a different language, others a reflection of popular culture at the time; but some students like to see a religious, social or political meaning in the symbols.

These suit systems and court hierarchies became the basis for various Standard National patterns, or National Types, which were associated with specific regions or tax jurisdictions.

Many of these have remained unchanged for centuries, being handed down through the generations, preserving their archaic, medieval characteristics. Others have evolved into modern types, perhaps as a self-affirmation of national identity in countries which have recently regained independence from imperial rule (see example). Indeed, as a result of globalisation and use of computers, standard playing card designs are becoming more uniform on the one hand, but with greater opportunities for customisation or originality on the other hand (i.e. non-standard).

Above: the Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century   more →