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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.

Ganjifa cards are used in India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and are usually hand-painted. This version was printed chromo-lithographically by the Chitrasala Press in around 1950. Ten suits of twelve cards, each suit is based on one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. An upper court card, Raja, a lower court card, Pradhan or Mantri, and ten numerals in each suit. Suits are: Matsya (fish), Kurma (turtle), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (lion), Vamana (water pot), Parashurama (axe), Rama (bow & arrow, or monkey), Krishna (quoit or cow), Buddha (conch) and Kalkin (sword or horse).

Dasavatara Ganjifa

Above: Dasavatara Ganjifa, 120 Cards, 2¾" in diameter, printed by Chitrasala Press, Pune, around 1950 with either black, red or white backs. All of the Pradhans are shown riding on white horses. The God Vishnu is shown on the Raja cards.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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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.


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